Archive for September 21st, 2013

Atlanta Hawks invite James Johnson to training camp

The Hawks have extended a non-roster training camp invitation to forward James Johnson.

The agency Priority Sports tweeted the news of a contract earlier this week, but I have confirmed with the Hawks that Johnson received a camp invitation and not a guaranteed deal. He also reportedly had work outs with the Spurs and Jazz.

Johnson (6-foot-9, 248) played last season for the Kings. He averaged 5.1 points, 2.7 rebounds, 1.1 assists and 16.3 minutes in 54 games.

Reported by Chris Vivlamore of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution

The price of admission to Sleep Train Arena has just gone up 5 percent.

As part of a complex deal between the city and the Sacramento Kings for a new downtown arena, the team this month added a 5percent fee on tickets to all arena events. The funds will be used to speed up payoff of a $74million loan the city issued to the Kings in 1997 to help previous team owners refinance arena debt. The Kings still owe the city $62million, after making a $2million July payment, City Treasurer Russ Fehr said.

The fee is expected to be in effect for upcoming events, including a Josh Grobin concert in two weeks, Disney on Ice and Kings pre-season and regular season games.

The surcharge is part of a series of expected agreements between the team and city as part of a joint plan to build a $448million arena at Downtown Plaza.

Reported by Tony Bizjak of the Sacramento Bee

Brook Lopez

Brook Lopez has some good news for Brooklyn Nets fans.

With training camp a little over a week away, Lopez says his surgically repaired right foot is 100 percent healthy.

“It’s great, it’s back to 100 percent,” Lopez told ESPNNewYork.com Saturday from an NBA Cares event. “I’m out there doing everything.”

That’s great news for the Nets, who are expecting big things from Lopez and the rest of their star-studded starting five.

Reported by Ian Begley of ESPN New York

Hawks guard Lou Williams still recovering from injury

Hawks training camp begins in 11 days – on Oct. 1 – and the team has no timeline on the return of Lou Williams from a torn ACL. According to team officials, Williams is progressing well with his right knee injury. However, he has not yet been given medical clearance by doctors to participate in training camp.

While Williams still could be cleared in time for camp, he most likely will not be ready to immediately assume the role he had last season. It could take a month for him to be at full strength. Williams’ season ended after just 39 games last season when he tore the ACL Jan. 18 against Brooklyn. Such an injury typically takes about nine months to heal.

The shooting guard minutes will be split between Kyle Korver, John Jenkins and DeMarre Carroll but there is room for a fourth player in the rotation.

Reported by Chris Vivlamore of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution (Blog)

Deron Williams

One of the biggest moves the Nets made was convincing Andrei Kirilenko – one of the linchpins of those Utah teams alongside [Deron] Williams and [Carlos] Boozer – to sign for one year at the mini-midlevel exception, giving the Nets one of the league’s most versatile players as well as an excellent perimeter defender. Having Kirilenko will allow coach Jason Kidd to deploy all kinds of different and creative lineup combinations.

And Williams, who has remained friendly with Kirilenko since being traded from the Jazz in 2011, did his part to recruit his old running mate to Brooklyn.

“Once I saw that he had opted out and free agency was kind of drying up,” Williams said, “I was like, ‘Man, just come play for us for one year, and you can make more next year [in free agency].’

“[Kirilenko] has made a lot of money in his career, so it wasn’t about money. He wants to come to a team where he gets to have fun and has a chance to win, and I think he’s going to have a chance to play here and we’re excited about that addition. That’s as big of an addition as [Pierce and Garnett], if you ask me. “

Reported by Tim Bontemps of the New York Post

Lithuania reached their first final since winning the 2003 edition after playmaker Mantas Kalnietis (18 points), shooting guard Jonas Maciulis (23) and forward Linas Kleiza (22 points and 11 rebounds) overran a Croatian team lacking the shooting accuracy of their rivals.

After a tight first half the Lithuanians engineered an 18-3 run early in the third quarter to take an unassailable 58-40 lead and set up their ninth win in 10 matches against the Croatians.

“We gave Kleiza and Maciulis too many open shots and we didn’t play defense with enough tenacity,” Croatia’s top-scorer Bojan Bogdanovic (15 points) told HRT television.

Coach Jasmin Repesa added: “We hoped to go all the way but looked very flat today and had no chance of winning with such poor perimeter shooting.”

Croatia nailed only three of 20 three-pointers.

Reported by Reuters

Lithuania are in the EuroBasket final for the fifth time - and first since the 2003 title - knocking off Croatia 77-62 to set up a date with either Spain or France to decide ultimate EuroBasket 2013 glory.

Croatia will fight for their third bronze medal after 1993 and 1995.

Linas Kleiza saved his best for the big time with 22 points, 11 rebounds and two assists to lead the Lithuanians while Jonas Maciulis nailed four three-pointers in scoring 23 points and Mantas Kalnietis added 18 points, three rebounds and four assists.

“It is important for us, for our generation, now that most of the older guys have left the team, our generation has proved that we can play basketball and represent Lithuania too,” said Maciulis, whose 23 points were a tournament-best for him.

“I think we have proved something now and we need to take one more step.”

Reported by EuroBasket2013.org

Tony Parker

France ended Spain’s reign as European basketball champion Friday with a 75-72 overtime victory behind 32 points from Tony Parker and set up a final against Lithuania.

Two-time defending champion Spain led by 14 points at halftime, but Parker led France’s comeback after the break. His 3-pointer with 2 minutes left gave France its first lead of the second half at 64-63.

“We wanted to be aggressive, but until halftime we weren’t really playing,” France coach Vincent Collet said. “We talked about it during the break and we came back very different. They couldn’t score for five minutes in the third and even when they started hitting shots again, our spirit stayed the same.”

Parker had a chance to put France ahead in regulation with the score tied at 65-65, but his drive to the basket was blocked by Rudy Fernandez with 11 seconds left. Jose Calderon then missed a 3-point attempt at the other end.

In overtime, Parker and Antoine Diot scored France’s last eight points from the free-throw line to keep France in front. Marc Gasol missed a 3-pointer at the buzzer after Rodriguez had missed a previous attempt to tie it.

Reported by Nesha Starcevic of the Associated Press

Spain looked home and dry at the interval. France had missed their first 10 attempts from three-point range while Parker scored 14 of his team’s 20 first-half points as his colleagues appeared overawed by the occasion.

The tide turned after the break as France hit nine of the next 10 shots from behind the arc with the unstoppable Parker producing blistering lay-ups, lethal perimeter shots and defense-splitting passing having also racked up six rebounds.

Reported by Reuters

Dallas Mavericks bench looks solid

Dallas Mavericks bench looks solid

Vince Carter led the Mavericks’ reserves last season, averaging better than 13 points per game while playing less than 26 minutes per game.

His per-minute scoring was his best since 2009-10 when he was in Orlando and was just slightly behind Dirk Nowitzki’s average points per minute.

And Carter likely will have more help on the bench this season. The addition of Wayne Ellington, Devin Harris and DeJuan Blair, all figuring to be backups, should again make the Mavericks’ reserves formidable.

The question, of course, is how they all come together. What the Mavericks have working for them is that most of their bench players have put in a lot of years in the league. Even the still relatively young Ellington and Blair are entering their fifth seasons.

“Yeah, it’s easier now than the first time,” Ellington said about getting adjusted to new players on a new team. “Just being able to make that adjustment and fit in where you need to be on that new team, it doesn’t take forever. We’re all professionals and we have experience. They’ll be some growing pains, but we’ll get there.”

Reported by Eddie Sefko of the Dallas Morning News

Dwyane Wade tells Jay Leno about celebrity relationships

Dwyane Wade’s appearance on NBC’s Tonight Show with Jay Leno early Friday morning offered more insight into his personal life than his professional one.

“I’m going to tell you something personal,” Wade said when Leno asked him about his relationship with actress Gabrielle Union.

“Celebrity relationships is very hard. This was a big year for us in our relationship from the standpoint of she was shooting her show Being Mary Jane. … I was dealing with my injuries, trying to win a championship. We kind of took a step back. We supported each other, but we took a step back for a little while. At the end of the day, we came back together and said, ‘Listen, we want to continue this. We want to try to continue to get better each day.’ She’s been with me and I’ve been with her all summer long. We’re going strong now.”

Reported by Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald

Basketball blog