Archive for September 19th, 2013

Metta World Peace
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Knicks forward Metta World Peace expects his former team, the Los Angeles Lakers, to play for the right to hoist the Larry O’Brien Championship Trophy this season.

“I think the Lakers are going to go to the NBA Finals,” World Peace said during a signing for his children’s book “Metta’s Bedtime Stories” in downtown Manhattan on Wednesday.

“I think Kobe [Bryant’s] gonna be healthy, they’re gonna get Pau [Gasol]. The Lakers are gonna make a big trade like they always do. They’re gonna get another good player, boom, boom, and they’re gonna go to the Finals. I believe it. Kobe’s gonna come back, he’s gonna play team ball, and Pau’s gonna play well.”

According to ESPN.com’s conference projections, the Lakers will finish 12th in the West, which prompted Bryant to tweet earlier this offseason, “12th I see..”

Reported by Mike Mazzeo, special to ESPN New York

Sean Marks is now a San Antonio Spurs assistant coach

The San Antonio Spurs today announced several front office promotions and additions entering the 2013-14 NBA season. Sean Marks assumes the role of assistant coach for the Spurs after serving the past season as director of basketball operations/Toros GM. Brian Pauga, currently director of scouting, adds Austin Toros general manager to his duties. Additionally, Will Hardy has been promoted to video coordinator, Anthony Falsone joins the Spurs as the athletic performance coordinator and Matt J. Herring assumes the role of athletic performance associate.

Marks, a native of New Zealand, began in the Spurs front office in 2011 as a basketball operations assistant before being promoted to director of basketball operations/Toros GM prior to last season. An 11-year NBA veteran, Marks played for San Antonio from 2003-06 and was a part of the Spurs 2005 NBA Championship team. He joins new assistant coach Jim Boylen and Ime Udoka on Gregg Popovich’s staff.

Pauga adds Toros general manager duties to his title after spending the past year as the director of scouting. The Michigan State graduate began his career in the Spurs front office as a basketball operations intern during the 2007-08 season before being elevated to scouting team coordinator.

Hardy takes over the role of video coordinator after spending the past two years as the assistant video coordinator for San Antonio. Hardy, who attended Williams College in Massachusetts, began with the Spurs as a video intern in 2011.

Falsone spent 10 seasons as the strength and conditioning coach for the Houston Rockets from 1995-2005. He also served as the personal strength coach for Hakeem Olajuwon from 1993-95 and for Yao Ming from 2005-06. While assisting Ming, Falsone worked with the Chinese men’s basketball team in preparation for the 2004 Olympics in Athens, Greece and for the 2006 FIBA World Championships in Sapparo, Japan.

Herring comes to the Spurs after spending the past year in Bermuda as the principal, strength and conditioning coach and fascial stretch therapist for Rhino Training. In the past year he has also worked for the Peak Performance Project in Santa Barbara, Calif., where he assisted with strength and conditioning preparation for athletes prior to the 2013 NBA Draft.

Damien Wilkins gets Hawks training camp invite

Add Damien Wilkins to the list of former Hawks who will be in training camp.

Wilkins, who played 52 games for the team during the 2010-11 season, will be a non-roster invite when camp begins Oct. 1.

Wilkins joins former Hawks player Royal Ivey, who agreed to an invitation Wednesday, in camp. Like Ivey, Wilkins played last season with the 76ers. The 6-foot-6 guard/small forward averaged 6.3 points, 1.7 rebounds, 1.5 assists and 18.0 minutes in 61 games, including 21 starts.

Reported by Chris Vivlamore of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution

The San Antonio Spurs today announced that forward Jeff Pendergraph has formally changed his last name to Ayres.

Ayres is the family name of his biological father, James. It replaces the surname of Jeff’s former stepfather.

According to Jeff McDonald of the San Antonio Express News, “I didn’t know who my dad was until I was a senior in high school,” Jeff Ayres said Wednesday, during a break from pickup games at the Spurs’ practice gym. He was born Jeff Orcutt, using his mother LaDona’s maiden name, and became Pendergraph in elementary school when she married. Growing up in Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., 45 miles east of Los Angeles, the future Jeff Ayres dreamed his biological father was someone famous, such as Denzel Washington or Shaquille O’Neal. A doctor. A musician. Somebody who was somebody. “It turns out it was a mechanic named James,” Ayres said.”

Toronto Raptors sign Chris Wright, Carlos Morais, Julyan Stone

The Toronto Raptors announced Thursday they have signed forward Chris Wright and guards Carlos Morais and Julyan Stone. Until we hear otherwise, we will assume these are non-guaranteed contracts that bring these players to Raptors training camp where they will have a chance to earn a deal that gives them a spot on the regular season roster.

Wright participated on the Raptors’ entry at the 2013 NBA Las Vegas Summer League and 2012 training camp in Halifax. During five games at Summer League he averaged 10.0 points and 3.2 rebounds while shooting .588 (20-for-34) from the field.

Wright spent the 2012-13 season with the Maine Red Claws of the NBA D-League and earned third-team All-NBA Development League honours. He appeared in 39 games with the Red Claws and ranked 10th in League scoring with 18.3 points per game.

Wright split the 2011-12 season between Golden State and the NBA D-League. He appeared in 24 games for the Warriors, averaging 2.9 points and 1.9 rebounds. He also appeared in 13 NBA D-League games with Maine and Dakota where he averaged 17.8 points, 8.8 rebounds and 1.38 blocks.

Morais recently competed for Angola at the 2013 FIBA Africa championship and was named the tournament’s Most Valuable Player. He averaged 15.9 points and 4.6 rebounds in seven contests for Angola and scored a team-best 21 points during the championship game versus Egypt. Morais spent the 2012-13 season with Atletico Petroleos de Luanda in Angola and represented his country at the 2008 Summer Olympics and 2006 FIBA World Championship.

Stone appeared in 26 games with Denver from 2011-13, averaging 1.7 points, 1.5 rebounds and 8.0 minutes. In four playoff contests, he contributed averages of 1.0 points, 0.8 assists and 4.3 minutes.

Stone also played in nine NBA D-League contests the past two seasons with Iowa and Idaho where he averaged 4.7 points, 4.3 rebounds and 18.1 minutes.

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