Archive for September, 2013

Al Jefferson

Thursday morning 15 or so players were in the practice gym doing 3-on-3 drills with the new coaching staff.

Center Al Jefferson, the most significant off-season acquisition, says he’s never seen anything like this in nine previous NBA seasons.

“A lot of veterans might choose not to, but they’re here. We’re getting together and getting to know one another,” Jefferson said.

“I told Kemba (Walker) when I first signed that I’m not coming here to lose. I’m coming here to turn things around,” Jefferson added. “I think (the seriousness of purpose) started with me. If I’m here in September, everyone should be. If Ben Gordon is here, same thing. If Brendan Haywood, a guy who already won a championship (with the Dallas Mavericks) is here, everybody should be here. That’s the way we look at it.”

Reported by Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer

Pau Gasol at full health, but will be limited in training camp

Pau Gasol has seemingly showed he has nine lives with the Lakers, staying on the franchise he loves despite demoted roles and endless trade rumors.

But even if Gasol arrived to Lakers’ media day on Saturday full of good spirits in having a chance to complete his fifth season donning purple and gold, there remains yet another hurdle he will have to climb.

He reported at full health after having a procedures this offseason to treat the painful tendons in both of his knees, but Gasol has yet to complete basketball-related drills.

“I’m getting there,” Gasol said. “Now training camp is going to be important with how we manage practices and how the knee reacts to the load of work.”

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

Danny Granger draws compliments after Indiana Pacers practice

Indiana Pacers forward Danny Granger played to positive reviews in his first practice since undergoing season-ending knee surgery six months ago.

From his teammates. From coach Frank Vogel. From Granger himself.

“For me, it honestly went better than expected,” Granger said after the Pacers’ first training camp practice on Saturday. “It felt good out there.”

Granger said pushing off his knee, which bothered him before the surgery and limited him to five games last season, no longer is an issue. Now, he wants to build endurance in it. Doctors have told him it takes a year to fully recover from the surgery he had, but players can return to action in six months.

Reported by Michael Pointer of the Indianapolis Star

Derrick Rose comes out attacking in first Bulls practice

After a season of breathlessness over the status of Derrick Rose’s left knee, it might be time to shift the focus to Gar Forman’s heart rate or Tom Thibodeau’s salivary glands.

The Bulls’ general manager and coach could be forgiven for being overly enthusiastic on Saturday following not only Derrick Rose’s aggressive first practice of training camp but Rose’s boldness afterward.

“I got confidence in my (surgically repaired left) knee,” Rose said. “There’s no testing anymore. It’s going out there and playing hard and attacking.”

By all accounts, that’s what the former league most valuable player did in the first session Saturday morning. Thibodeau is devoting the evening sessions on both Saturday and Sunday to film work, shooting and walk-through points of emphasis. Rose said he plans to not miss a practice.

Reported by K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune

Miami Heat announce front office promotions

The Miami Heat really enjoy having Juwan Howard around. And will continue to do so, though nobody has to pretend that Howard might actually play in a game anymore.

The Heat announced today several front office promotions, including Andy Elisburg to Senior Vice President, Basketball Operations/General Manager, Adam Simon to Assistant General Manager/General Manager Sioux Falls Skyforce, Dan Craig to Assistant Coach/Player Development, Chad Kammerer to Director of NBA Scouting/Advance Scout, Keith Askins to Director of College and Pro Scouting and the hiring of Juwan Howard to Assistant Coach/Player Development.

Elisburg, a Heat original employee of 25 years, will serve as Senior Vice President, Basketball Operations/General Manager. His duties will include assisting CEO Nick Arison and President Pat Riley in the management of all aspects of the Heat’s basketball organization including salary cap administration, talent acquisition, league compliance and the day-to-day business of basketball operations.

Simon has been named Assistant General Manager/General Manger Sioux Falls Skyforce. He will assist Andy Elisburg in all areas of the Heat’s basketball operations department as well as heading the basketball operations department of the Heat’s NBA Development League affiliate, the Sioux Falls Skyforce.

Craig, entering his 11th season with the Heat, has been named Assistant Coach/Player Development and will continue to spend numerous hours on the court with individual players developing their game.

Kammerer has been named Director of NBA Scouting/Advance Scout after spending the previous five seasons as an assistant coach. His responsibilities will include providing scouting reports and player evaluations to assist the Heat coaching staff in their game preparations and the team’s personal department on player acquisitions.

Askins, who has spent his entire professional career with the Heat, enters the 2013-14 season as Director of College and Pro Scouting as he will work with Chet Kammerer and Adam Simon overseeing all aspects of the Heat’s scouting department after serving 14 years as a full-time assistant coach.

Howard, a 19-year NBA veteran, will make the transition to the coaching staff after being named Assistant Coach/Player Development. He will be assisting in the areas of player development and other duties assigned by Head Coach Erik Spoelstra.

Additionally, the Heat also named Rich Fernando to Executive Assistant to the Coaches, Eric Glass to Video Coordinator and Tim Hardaway to Scout/Community & Corporate Liaison.

The Philadelphia 76ers today announced they have signed free agents Solomon Alabi (Ala-bee) and Nayal “Mac” Koshwal. The Sixers training camp roster now stands at 20 players.

Alabi (7-1, 250) was originally the 50th overall pick by Dallas in the 2010 NBA Draft before his rights were traded to Toronto. The 25-year-old played two seasons for the Raptors in 2010-11 and 2011-12. Last season, Alabi played for the Idaho Stampede of the NBA Development League and Ikaros Chalkidas of the Greek League. Alabi was an early entry candidate following his sophomore season at Florida State, during which he averaged 12 points, six rebounds and over two blocks. The Nigerian-born Alabi was twice named to the ACC All-Defensive Team as a sophomore and a redshirt freshman.

Koshwal (6-10, 255) was an early entry candidate for the 2010 NBA Draft following his junior season at DePaul, during which he averaged 16 points, 10 rebounds, two assists, two steals and a block. The Sudanese-born Koshwal was one of three BIG EAST players to average a double-double that season. Last season, the 25-year-old competed in the NBA Summer League in Las Vegas before spending time on several minor league teams.

wizards

Washington Wizards President Ernie Grunfeld announced today that the team has signed forwards Josh Childress and Pops Mensah-Bonsu, guard Xavier Silas and center D’Or Fischer. We assume these are all non-guaranteed deals that merely bring those players to training camp.

Childress (6-8, 210) is a seven-year NBA veteran who holds career averages of 9.2 points and 4.8 rebounds in 387 games with Atlanta, Phoenix and Brooklyn. He was originally selected by Atlanta with the sixth overall pick in the 2004 NBA Draft. In 2008, after four seasons in Atlanta, Childress signed a contract with Olympiacos in Greece where he averaged 12.4 points, 4.7 rebounds and 1.1 assists per game over two seasons. After being traded to Phoenix and playing two seasons with the Suns (2010-2012), Childress signed as a free agent with Brooklyn last season.

Mensah-Bonsu (6-9, 240) appeared in six games with Cajasol in Spain and nine games with EA7 Armani in Italy during the 2012-13 season. The four-year George Washington product has played 61 career NBA contests with Dallas, San Antonio, Toronto, Houston and New Orleans, averaging 3.0 points and 3.0 rebounds in 8.3 minutes per game. Mensah-Bonsu, a London native, competed in the 2012 Olympic Games for the United Kingdom where he averaged 8.5 points and 7.3 rebounds in four games. He has also played professionaly in France and Turkey.

Silas (6-5, 205) appeared in two games with the Philadelphia 76ers during the 2011-12 season where he averaged 5.5 points and 2.0 rebounds in 20 minutes per game. In the last two seasons with the Maine Red Claws of the D-League, Silas has averaged 10.8 points, 3.1 rebounds and 2.2 assists in 73 games. He was undrafted out of Northern Illinois University.

Fischer (6-11, 240) finished his collegiate career playing two seasons at West Virginia after transferring from Northwestern State. After going undrafted in 2005, the Philadelphia native has played professionally in Poland, Germany, Belgium, Israel and Spain as well as with Roanoke Dazzle of the D-League in 2005-06 where he averaged 5.9 points and 5.0 rebounds in 26 games.

The Wizards’ training camp roster currently stands at 19 players.

New York Knicks sign Ike Diogu

New York Knicks sign Ike Diogu

The New York Knickerbockers announced today that the team has signed forward Ike Diogu. We assume this is a non-guaranteed deal that merely brings Diogu to training camp.

Diogu, 6-9, 250-pounds, holds career averages of 6.0 points, on 50.9-percent shooting, 3.1 rebounds and 12.4 minutes in 225 games (18 starts) over six seasons with Golden State, Indiana, Portland, Sacramento, L.A. Clippers and San Antonio. He spent the last two seasons playing in Puerto Rico (Arecibo) and China (Xinjiang), after playing in two games for San Antonio in 2011-12. The Buffalo, NY-native was originally selected by Golden State following three seasons at Arizona State University in the first round (ninth pick overall) of 2005 NBA Draft.

Miami Heat sign Roger Mason Jr

Miami Heat sign Roger Mason Jr

The Miami Heat announced today that they have signed guard Roger Mason Jr.

Mason, a nine-year NBA veteran, has appeared in 493 career NBA games (101 starts) and averaged 6.5 points, 1.8 rebounds, 1.3 assists and 18.0 minutes while shooting 40.9 percent from the field, 38.4 percent from three-point range and 86.3 percent from the foul line. Additionally, Mason has appeared in 24 career postseason NBA games (three starts) and averaged 5.3 points, 1.0 rebounds and 17.1 minutes while shooting 36.8 percent from the field, 33.3 percent from three-point range and 76.5 percent from the foul line.

Last season, he appeared in 69 games (13 starts) with New Orleans and averaged 5.3 points, 1.9 rebounds, 1.1 assists and 17.7 minutes while shooting 43.3 percent from the field, 41.5 percent from three-point range and 90.7 percent from the foul line. He led the team in three-point field goal percentage while finishing second in free throw percentage and third in three-point field goals made (66).

Mason will wear number 21.

The Heat’s roster now stands at 19.

Lakers add Dan Gadzuric to training camp

Lakers sign Dan Gadzuric

The Los Angeles Lakers have signed center Dan Gadzuric, it was announced today by General Manager Mitch Kupchak. We assume this is a non-guaranteed deal that merely brings Gadzuric to training camp.

A ten-year NBA veteran, Gadzuric spent the 2012-13 season playing with Marinos de Anzoátegui in Venezuela. In 30 games with the team he averaged 10.1 points, 6.3 rebounds and 0.7 blocks in 19.4 minutes. Selected in the second round (34th overall) by the Milwaukee Bucks in the 2002 NBA Draft, the 6-11 center out of UCLA has played in 527 career NBA games with Milwaukee, Golden State, New Jersey (now Brooklyn), Toronto and New York, averaging 4.7 points, 4.4 rebounds and 0.9 blocks in 14.8 minutes.

The Lakers training camp roster now stands at 19 players.

warriors

The Golden State Warriors will wear white short-sleeve alternate uniforms for every Saturday home game during the 2013-14 season, beginning Saturday, November 2, 2013 at 7:30 p.m. at Oracle Arena when the team takes on the Sacramento Kings.

The Warriors were the first team in NBA history to wear a modern short-sleeve NBA uniform when they debuted yellow alternates on February 22, 2013 against the San Antonio Spurs at Oracle Arena. The Warriors wore the yellow uniforms during the 2012-13 season for two additional home games including March 8 vs. the Houston Rockets and March 15 vs. the Chicago Bulls.

The Warriors will wear the white modern short sleeve NBA uniform for every Saturday home game.

warriors

The Golden State Warriors have signed center Ognjen Kuzmic (oge-NEN KOOZ-mitch) to a contract, the team announced today. The team has also added free agent forward Joe Alexander to the Training Camp roster.

Kuzmic, 23, was selected by the Warriors with the 52nd overall pick in the 2012 NBA Draft and remained overseas last season to play with FIATC Joventut in Spain, where he averaged 6.9 points and 5.5 rebounds per contest. A 7’0” center from Bosnia & Herzegovina, Kuzmic has played professionally in Europe for six seasons, with stops in Spain, Bosnia and Finland.

Alexander, 26, most recently played in Russia with Krasnie Krilya in 2011-12, averaging 8.7 points and 3.8 rebounds in six Russian League games and 8.4 points and 4.0 rebounds in nine VTB United League contests. Prior to playing overseas, Alexander played two seasons in the NBA Development League, including the 2010-11 season when he earned First Team All-NBA D-League honors with the Texas Legends. Originally drafted by the Milwaukee Bucks in the first round (eighth overall) of the 2008 NBA Draft, Alexander holds NBA career averages of 4.2 points and 1.8 rebounds in 67 games over three seasons with the Milwaukee Bucks, Chicago Bulls and New Orleans Hornets.

The Warriors now have 18 players under contract.

Pau Gasol reports improvement in his knees

Pau Gasol recently stepped foot in Los Angeles in high spirits for reasons including a new season and a likely increased role.

There’s another reason, too.

Gasol visited with Dr. Steve Yoon of the Kerlan-Jobe Orthopaedic Clinic Thursday for an evaluation after rehabbing this offseason the tendinosis in both of his knees. Gasol then turned to Twitter to deliver a positive assessment in 140 characters.

Gasol: “Great news! My knees are a lot better thanks to the procedure, the rest & the hard work during the summer! Let’s go!”

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

Houston Rockets CEO thinks team may sell out every home game

The Rockets’ first prediction of the season might not be topped, even if this one never mentioned games to be won or a championship to be chased.

Kevin McHale will not be so bold. His players are as unlikely to be as daring. Their boss, however, did not hesitate, at least when it came to the goals of his wing of Toyota Center and the business of basketball.

The Rockets, CEO Tad Brown said, will sell out every home game this season. For the Rockets in the Toyota Center era, that is a huge proclamation.

“We’re further ahead in our sales process at this time than we ever have been,” Brown said heading into the start of team workouts Saturday. “The season-ticket base is up 34 percent. We are close to being sold out of season tickets. And we are pretty confident with the excitement that this team has already created in the market that we’ll be sold out of every game.”

Reported by Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle

Some Knicks items of note

Knicks

The Knicks could be in a position to have cap room flexibility in 2015 and may make another run at LeBron James, who has three years left on his contract with the Heat but can opt out of the final two seasons in July.

The Knicks have several important issues facing the team, starting with coach Mike Woodson’s contract. Woodson, who played college ball with Grunwald at Indiana, is under contract for this season but has a team option for next season.

Carmelo Anthony can opt out of his contract after the season. J.R. Smith is recovering from knee surgery and has been suspended five games by the NBA for violating the terms of the anti-drug agreement. Amar’e Stoudemire is trying to become a regular contributor again after surgeries on both knees limited him to 29 games last season.

Reported by Al Iannazzone of New York Newsday

Some thoughts on new Pistons Brandon Jennings and Josh Smith

Jennings sat on the outside looking in during this summer’s free-agency frenzy, arriving in Detroit in a three-year deal via sign-and-trade. The Pistons believe he’ll return to his prep school mode of being a distributor first, rather than primarily looking for his own offense, as he’s done during his first four years in the NBA.

Jennings represents an upgrade over Brandon Knight in terms of point guard aptitude, but he must be willing to buy into the system and set up his teammates.

Rumors of the Pistons pursuing Boston point guard Rajon Rondo won’t amount to anything anytime soon. Jennings can quiet them with steady play.

Josh Smith: The shiny new, $54 million signee gets a fresh start away from the sometimes-unfair scrutiny he faced in his hometown Atlanta. There’s no denying his talent, and he and Drummond can raise terror defensively and in the open floor with their length and athleticism. He’ll be the starting small forward, but is expected to see time at power forward as well, so his role in the offense remains to be seen.

Smith will face a bit of a culture adjustment this season, moving from the pressure of playing for his hometown team to the pressure of playing for a franchise with more of a winning tradition and the resulting higher expectations.

Reported by Vincent Goodwill of the Detroit News

Cleveland Cavaliers announce staff promotions

The Cleveland Cavaliers have promoted Trent Redden to Assistant General Manager and Koby Altman to Director of Pro Player Personnel. Additionally, Alex Moore has been hired as High Performance Director and will oversee the Cavaliers Performance Team, which manages the team’s rehabilitation, physical therapy, nutrition, strength and conditioning, and athletic training areas.

Redden was most recently the Director of College Player Personnel for the Cavs and has been with the organization since 2006. Altman joined the Cavaliers in 2012 as the Pro Personnel Manager after spending several seasons as an assistant coach at Columbia University and as an Operations Manager with USA Basketball.

Moore, joins the Cavs from the United States Ski Team where he served as the program’s Strength and Conditioning Coordinator for six years.

Within the Performance Team, Steve Spiro has been promoted to Head Athletic Trainer after serving the last three seasons as assistant athletic trainer and Derek Millender has been promoted to Performance Specialist after three seasons as the team’s assistant strength coach. The Cavs have also hired Yusuke Nakayama as Assistant Athletic Trainer, Performance Scientist. Nakayama comes to the Cavs by way of Michigan State University, where he served as an athletic trainer with the Spartan Nutrition and Athletic Performance Program, while finishing his PhD. George Sibel also continues as Physical Therapist, a role he has held with the team for the last seven seasons.

The Orlando Magic have signed rookie forward Romero Osby, General Manager Rob Hennigan announced today.

In addition to Osby, the Magic have signed free agents Mickell Gladness (#40, 6-11, 220, 7/26/86, Alabama A&M), Manny Harris (#3, 6-5, 185, 9/21/89, Michigan), Solomon Jones (#22, 6-10, 245, 7/16/84, South Florida) and Kris Joseph (#32, 6-7, 210, 12/17/88, Syracuse). The roster currently stands at 19 players.

Osby (AHZ-bee, 6’8”, 230, 5/7/90) was selected by Orlando in the second round (51st overall) of the 2013 NBA Draft. He appeared and started in 63 career games during two seasons at the University of Oklahoma, averaging 14.4 ppg., 7.2 rpg. and 1.1 apg. in 29.4 minpg., while shooting .509 (321-631) from the field. Osby also played in 71 games (three starts) in two seasons at Mississippi State University, averaging 4.2 ppg. and 2.6 rpg. in 12.8 minpg.

OKC Thunder sign guards Diante Garrett and Rodney McGruder

The Oklahoma City Thunder signed guards Diante Garrett and Rodney McGruder to contracts, it was announced today by Executive Vice President and General Manager Sam Presti. We assume these are just non-guaranteed deals that merely bring the players to training camp.

Garrett (6-4, 190 pounds), appeared in 19 games last season as a member of the Phoenix Suns where he averaged 2.1 points and 1.6 assists in 7.9 minutes per game. Additionally, Garrett played eight games last season for the Bakersfield Jam of the NBA D-League where he posted averages of 17.3 points, 7.3 assists and 1.63 steals.

While playing collegiately at Iowa State, Garrett became one of three players in Big 12 history to amass 1,300 points and 600 assists.

McGruder (6-4, 205 pounds), recently concluded his four year college career at Kansas State where he became one of two players in school history to rank among the top 10 in both career scoring and rebounding.

During his senior season, McGruder earned All-Big 12 First Team and Honorable Mention All-America honors after registering averages of 15.6 points, 5.4 rebounds, 2.0 assists and 1.26 steals per game.

The Oklahoma City Thunder roster now stands at 17.

76ers training camp

The Philadelphia 76ers today announced their training camp roster in preparation for the 2013-14 NBA season. Training camp will take place at Saint Joseph’s University’s Hagan Arena beginning tomorrow, Saturday, Sept. 28, and runs through Wednesday, Oct. 2.

In conjunction with the start of training camp, the Sixers have announced the signing of five players.

Vander Blue (6-4, 200) is a rookie from Marquette and was an early entry candidate for the 2013 NBA Draft following his junior season, during which he averaged 15 points, three rebounds and two assists en route to earning All-BIG EAST Second Team honors. Blue increased his scoring average, along with his field goal, three-point and free throw percentage across each of his three collegiate seasons. He averaged 12 points and nearly six rebounds in the 2013 Orlando Pro Summer League.

Darius Morris (6-4, 195) was the 41st overall pick by the L.A. Lakers in the 2011 NBA Draft. In two seasons with the Lakers, Morris appeared in 67 games with 17 starts. During the Lakers First Round series vs. San Antonio in the 2013 playoffs, Morris averaged 11 points and three assists in 26 minutes per game. Morris entered the NBA Draft as an early entry candidate after his sophomore season at Michigan, where he averaged 10 points and five assists en route to earning All-Big Ten Third Team honors.

Hollis Thompson (6-8, 206) is a rookie from Georgetown and was an early entry candidate for the 2012 NBA Draft following his junior season, during which he averaged 13 points and nearly six rebounds en route to earning All-BIG EAST honorable mention. Last season, he played for the Tulsa 66ers of the NBA Development League, averaging eight points and four rebounds.

Rodney Williams (6-7, 205) is a rookie from Minnesota and was eligible for the 2013 NBA Draft following his senior season, during which he averaged 10 points, five rebounds and two assists. He also shot over 51% from the floor for his collegiate career. Williams averaged eight points, two assists and a block and a half per game in the 2013 Orlando Pro Summer League, while playing for the Sixers’ Summer League team.

Khalif Wyatt (6-4, 205) is a rookie from Temple and was eligible for the 2013 NBA Draft following his senior season, during which he averaged 20 points, four assists, three rebounds and nearly two steals en route to earning Atlantic 10 Player of the Year honors. The Norristown native played for the Sixers in the 2013 Orlando Pro Summer League, averaging a team-high 14 points along with three assists and over a steal and a half per game.

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