Archive for September 25th, 2013

The Los Angeles Lakers have signed center Eric Boateng and guard Darius Johnson-Odom, it was announced today. 

Boateng, a free agent center out of Arizona State University, has split time over the last three seasons playing for the Idaho Stampede and the Austin Toros of the NBA’s Development League in addition to playing internationally for the Greek Basket League team Peristeri and the New Yorker Phantoms Braunschweig in Germany. The 6-10 center, who played one year (2005-06) at Duke before transferring to Arizona State University (2007-10), finished his collegiate career averaging 4.3 points and 3.5 rebounds in 13.8 minutes over 116 games. Born in London, Boateng is also a member of the Great Britain national basketball team.

Johnson-Odom, the 55th overall pick in the 2012 NBA Draft, was acquired by the Lakers from the Dallas Mavericks on draft night. The 6-2 guard out of Marquette appeared in four games for the Lakers last season, where he totaled four rebounds and one assist in six minutes. Johnson-Odom also played in 13 games for the Los Angeles D-Fenders where he averaged 21.0 points, 5.2 rebounds and 5.2 assists in 39.8 minutes. After being waived by the Lakers in January, the Raleigh, North Carolina native spent the remainder of the 2012-13 season playing in Russia for BC Spartak Saint Petersburg.

Most recently, Johnson-Odom participated in the 2013 NBA Summer League games held in Orlando and Las Vegas. In three games as a member of the Boston Celtics summer league entry in Orlando, Johnson-Odom averaged 10.3 points and 1.3 assists in 23.7 minutes. In six games played as a member of Denver’s summer league team in Las Vegas, Johnson-Odom averaged 7.2 points and 3.0 assists in 15.8 minutes.

The Lakers training camp roster now stands at 18 players. 

Utah Jazz waive guard Jerel McNeal

The Utah Jazz announced today that the team has waived guard Jerel McNeal. Following the move, Utah’s roster now stands at 13 players.

McNeal (6-3, 200, Marquette), whose first name is pronounced Jah-rell, was originally signed by the Jazz to a 10-day contract on March 27 from the NBA Development League’s Bakersfield Jam, then signed for the remainder of the 2012-13 season on April 6.

McNeal did not appear in a game for the Jazz.

Gerald Wallace

Back in July, when the Boston Celtics formally introduced the players acquired from the Brooklyn Nets as part of this summer’s nine-player blockbuster swap, small forward Gerald Wallace was absent, excused from the press conference to attend the start of his youth basketball camp in his native Alabama.

Seventy-three days later, with training camp less than a week away, the former All-Star still hasn’t made an appearance at his new basketball home. So when a reporter noted to Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge on Tuesday that Wallace remains an intriguing figure because he hasn’t spoken to the media, Ainge smiled and offered, “I’m right there with you. I’m anxious to meet Gerald.”

The two crossed paths briefly a lifetime ago, when Wallace was a fresh-faced rookie in Sacramento and Ainge was doing TV work. Now, Ainge is presiding over his second Boston rebuild and 31-year-old Wallace is the heftiest contract on his books (three years, $30.3 million).

Reported by Chris Forsberg of ESPN Boston

Nick Young or Wesley Johnson may be starter at SF for Lakers

The former USC and Cleveland High of Reseda standout revealed D’Antoni’s intentions that both he and Wesley Johnson are spending part of training camp competing for the starting spot at small forward.

“I think it’s going to be a little bit of both,” Young said. “Wesley is young and athletic and could fit in that Shawn Marion type game. That’s what they like about him.”

They like Young, of course, because of his athleticism and scoring mentality. Meanwhile, the Lakers see potential in Johnson as a solid perimeter defender. Still, the fourth selection in the 2010 NBA Draft has only averaged 7.7 points and 2.8 rebounds in 23.1 minutes in three uneventful seasons with the Minnesota Timberwolves and Phoenix Suns.

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

Trevor Booker hoping to bounce back for Wizards

Trevor Booker won’t spend too much time dwelling on what went wrong last season. He knows injuries once again spoiled his campaign, limiting his effectiveness and his playing time and resulting in his least productive season with the Washington Wizards.

Booker can’t change what happened, but he used the frustration of a lost season to fuel his offseason workouts in Charlotte, where he focused on getting stronger and more durable for a critical season.

“I don’t watch the film,” Booker said of last season, when he averaged 5.3 points, 5.0 rebounds and shot a career-low 49.1 percent. “I just try to keep it in my head.”

In his three seasons with the Wizards, the 6-foot-8 Booker has been a rugged, high-energy player but staying healthy has always been a greater struggle for the undersize forward than battling for rebounds with larger opponents.

Reported by Michael Lee of the Washington Post (Blog)

Greg Monroe deflecting questions about future with Pistons

Greg Monroe’s restricted free agency figures to dominate Detroit Pistons news in summer of 2014, which is precisely where the forward-center plans to keep it.

Monroe made it clear today that he has no intention of fielding questions about his contractual future.

When it was suggested that such questions are precisely what he figures to face throughout this season, Monroe declared, “No, I’m not.”

He answered the question preemptively, with the caveat that he has no intention of addressing it again.

Reported by David Mayo of Michigan Live

Renaldo Balkman may join Mavs training camp

Former New York Knicks draftee Renaldo Balkman is considering joining the Mavericks as the final member of their training camp roster.

The Mavericks were hoping to bring in active defensive-minded bodies to fill out their camp roster and Balkman would fit that need.

The 6-8 Balkman was the 20th overall pick in the 2006 draft by the Knicks. In six NBA seasons, he has averaged 4 points and 3.5 rebounds in limited playing time. He was traded to the Denver Nuggets in 2008 then traded back to the Knicks in 2011 as part of the Carmelo Anthony deal.

Reported by Eddie Sefko of the Dallas Morning News (Blog)

Indiana Pacers sign Paul George to multi-year contract extension

The Indiana Pacers announced Wednesday they have signed veteran guard/forward Paul George to a multi-year contract extension. According to the Indianapolis Star, “George is eligible for a five-year contract that will pay him approximately $80 million to $90 million, according to the NBA’s collective bargaining agreement. If he is named to one of the league’s three All-NBA teams at the end of next season, he would be eligible for more than $90 million. If not, he could make almost $80 million.”
According to the Associated Press, “We’re all in this year,” Larry Bird said. They proved it Wednesday by officially singing George to a five-year max contract extension that guarantees him between $80 and $90 million and could be worth even more if George reaches an escalator clause. George’s deal comes after David West’s new three-year, $36 million contract, Bird’s offseason spending spree to improve the bench and last year’s expensive deals to keep center Roy Hibbert and point guard George Hill. The Pacers are almost certain to have their core nucleus together for several more years. And with the Pacers coming off back-to-back playoff runs in which they pushed Miami, the expectations are soaring.”

The 6-7, 225-pound George is considered one of the rising stars in the NBA. Last season, his third in the NBA, George averaged 17.4 points, 7.6 rebounds, 4.1 assists and 1.8 steals per game. He made his first All-Star appearance as a reserve for the East in the NBA All-Star Game, was named the NBA’s Most Improved Player while also being named to the All-NBA third team and the All-Defensive second team. George was the Pacers’ No. 1 draft pick (10th overall) in the 2010 draft.

“I want to thank the Pacers for believing in me when they drafted me,” said George. “To continue my career with the Pacers was a very easy decision. We have great ownership, a great front office, great fans and I’m blessed with great coaches and great teammates. I use great a lot because that is what this franchise is and I’m hopeful we can be part of great things in the future.”

“Paul represents not only what our team and franchise is about, but what a professional athlete should be,” said President of Basketball Operations Larry Bird. “He strives every day to be the best he can be, as a player, as a teammate, as a person and as a representative of this franchise.”

Associated Press: “George showed up for the news conference in a nifty gray suit, dapper shoes, trendy eyeglasses and neatly trimmed hair. But he didn’t sound different from the blue-collar guy who has been impressing Pacers coaches and teammates since he was taken 10th in the 2010 draft.”

New York City to host 2015 NBA All-Star Weekend

New York City has been selected to host NBA All-Star 2015, NBA Commissioner David Stern announced today. The 64th NBA All-Star Game will be played at Madison Square Garden, home of the New York Knicks, on Sunday, Feb.15, 2015. The Rising Stars Challenge, NBA All-Star Celebrity Game and All-Star Saturday Night - including the Shooting Stars, Skills Challenge, Three-Point Contest and Slam Dunk contest - will be held at Barclays Center, home of the Brooklyn Nets.

According to the Associated Press, “The Garden was ready to host again after its project, which took place over the last three summers, but Barclays also was a strong candidate to land another marquee event to the many it has staged in its opening year. Silver said the teams realized the game wouldn’t come back to New York again right away, so sharing was the only way both could be involved. That was agreeable for both teams, who have developed some friction since the Nets left New Jersey and set up shop in the Knicks’ city. Players have taken shots at each other in the media, and Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov has even poked fun at Knicks counterpart James Dolan. But apparently that relationship was soothed over for this, with Stern sitting in on a meeting between the two.”

New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg; James L. Dolan, Executive Chairman, The Madison Square Garden Company; Hank J. Ratner, President and CEO, The Madison Square Garden Company; Irina Pavlova, President, ONEXIM Sports and Entertainment Holding USA, Inc.; and Bruce C. Ratner, majority owner and developer of Barclays Center and Executive Chairman of Forest City Ratner Companies, joined Commissioner Stern and Deputy Commissioner Adam Silver for the announcement at the NBA Partner Forum held at Industria Superstudio in New York City.

As part of NBA All-Star 2015, the NBA and its partners will host a variety of community, grassroots and fan events throughout the city’s five boroughs (The Bronx, Brooklyn, Manhattan, Queens and Staten Island).

This will mark the fifth time that NBA All-Star will take place in New York, having been held previously at Madison Square Garden in 1954, 1955, 1968 and 1998.

“New York offers an extraordinary opportunity to host NBA All-Star events at two world-class venues,” said Stern. “We look forward to celebrating our game with basketball fans across the entire city, in all five boroughs.”

“New York City is the basketball capital of the world and the sport’s biggest stage,” said Mayor Bloomberg. “We’re lucky enough to have two world-class arenas, and the only thing better than having All-Star weekend at Madison Square Garden or the Barclays Center is having it at both of them. The weekend’s activities mean tens of thousands of visitors to the City and lots of activity for local businesses, plus a week of community service events around the five boroughs led by the NBA, which has a terrific record of giving back. We’re thrilled and looking forward to cheering on the stars.”

For the 13th consecutive year, the 2015 NBA All-Star Game will be televised in primetime on TNT. It will be the 31st year that Turner Sports provides NBA All-Star coverage. The 2015 NBA All-Star Game will be broadcast to a worldwide audience in 215 countries and territories and in more than 40 languages.

“We are honored to host the greatest players in the NBA in the newly transformed World’s Most Famous Arena for the 2015 All-Star Game,” said Dolan. “Over its 134-year history, Madison Square Garden has been privileged to host some of sports most defining and enduring moments and we are thrilled to add this prestigious event to The Garden’s illustrious history. We look forward to working with the City of New York, the NBA and the Brooklyn Nets to make the event a celebration of basketball for all New Yorkers to enjoy.”

“We are thrilled to welcome the 2015 NBA All-Star festivities on Friday and Saturday to Barclays Center,” said Brooklyn Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov. “Brooklyn has produced some of the greatest players in NBA history, so it’s fitting to hold All-Star events in the ‘Borough of Basketball.’ We are looking forward to showing fans and the players a memorable experience in our state-of-the-art venue, and we are also excited to bring the All-Star Game to Barclays Center in the very near future.”

“Barclays Center is proud to welcome such an exciting event as All-Star ’15 and to continue bringing the best to Brooklyn,” said Bruce C. Ratner. “We are delighted to join with New York City, the NBA and Madison Square Garden for a wonderful weekend. Basketball may have been invented in Springfield, Mass., but its heart and soul are in NYC through and through.”

“Madison Square Garden has been a celebrated center of New York since it first opened its doors in 1879. This fall, with the completion of our three-year Transformation, The World’s Most Famous Arena will also become the world’s most state-of-the-art arena,” said Hank Ratner. “2015 will mark our fifth time hosting the All-Star Game, and we look forward to providing yet another unforgettable experience for the great basketball fans of New York.”

NBA All-Star is an event with deep roots in New York City, reaching back to the 1954 game (the fourth NBA All-Star Game overall), where the Madison Square Garden faithful saw the Celtics’ Bob Cousy tally 10 points in overtime en route to MVP honors as the East recorded a 98-93 win over the West. Boston had a second consecutive All-Star Game MVP in 1955 as Bill Sharman scored 10 of his 15 points in the fourth quarter of the East’s 100-91 win over the West in the second NBA All-Star Game played at Madison Square Garden. Philadelphia’s Hal Greer shot 8-of-8 from the floor and notched 21 points during the third NBA All-Star Game played in New York City, a 144-124 East win in 1968. In 1998, the most recent contest in New York, Michael Jordan garnered MVP honors as he scored 23 points and added eight assists and six rebounds during a 135-114 victory for the East.

NBA All-Star competitions will get underway on Friday, Feb. 13, as the league’s top rookies and second-year players take the court in the BBVA Rising Stars Challenge. Saturday’s festivities will feature State Farm All-Star Saturday Night, an all-inclusive skills showcase comprised of Sears Shooting Stars, a competition featuring NBA and WNBA players, and NBA legends; Taco Bell Skills Challenge, a contest of top guards working against the clock to complete a series of passes, free throws, layups and agility drills; Foot Locker Three-Point Contest, a longstanding staple of the evening; and the high-flying Sprite Slam Dunk. Sunday’s slate of activities will also feature a Sprint Pregame Concert before the 64th NBA All-Star Game tips off.

pistons

Detroit Pistons President of Basketball Operations Joe Dumars announced today that the club has named Henry Bibby and Maz Trakh as assistant coaches joining John Loyer, who’s been on Detroit’s coaching staff the last two seasons. Additionally, Rasheed Wallace and Bernard Smith have been named player development coaches, Kamran Sufi has been hired as advance scout and Raman Sposato as video coordinator.

Bibby enters his first season with Detroit after spending the last five seasons on the Memphis Grizzlies coaching staff. During his stint in Memphis, Bibby helped coach the Grizzlies to the playoffs for three consecutive years (2011-13). Prior to joining the Grizzlies, Bibby served two-plus seasons (2005-08) as an assistant coach for the Philadelphia 76ers under Maurice Cheeks. He served as the head coach of the men’s basketball team at the University of Southern California, where he was named the 2002 National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC) District 15 Co-Coach of the Year, along with Paul Westphal, and was a finalist for the 2002 Naismith Coach of the Year Award. He also had coaching stints in the CBA, IBA, WNBA, USBL and in overseas leagues. Bibby averaged 8.6 points, 2.3 rebounds and 3.4 assists in 675 career games over nine NBA seasons (1972-81). He won an NBA championship with the Knicks as a rookie in 1973. Collegiately, he played three seasons (1969-72) at UCLA where, under head coach John Wooden, he was the starting point guard on three NCAA title teams, earning consensus All-American honors as a senior while serving as the team’s captain.

Trakh joins Detroit after serving the last three seasons as an assistant coach with the Oklahoma City Thunder. Prior to Oklahoma City, he spent five years in Asia as a head coach in the Jordan Basketball League. In 2005, he led Jordan Fastlink to the FIBA Asia Club Championship, marking the first time a Jordanian team won the Asia Club Championship. Trakh has also coached in the Continental Basketball Association (CBA), American Basketball Association (ABA) and the collegiate level with Cabrillo College, UC Irvine, Riverside Community College and Long Beach State. Prior to his coaching career, Trakh played collegiately at Southern Utah University.

Wallace begins his first year as a player development coach after a 16-year NBA playing career. He returns to the Pistons where he played five-plus seasons (2004-09) and helped the team to the 2004 NBA Championship. Wallace averaged 14.4 points, 6.7 rebounds, 1.8 assists, 1.3 blocks and 1.0 steals in 1,109 career games with Washington, Portland, Atlanta, Detroit, Boston and New York. He was acquired by the Pistons from the Hawks on February 19, 2004 and was a key member of the Pistons’ team that made back-to-back NBA Finals appearances in 2004 and 2005.

Smith enters his first season as a player development coach with the Pistons. He previously worked under Cheeks in both Portland and Philadelphia. He served as video coordinator for the Trail Blazers for two seasons (2002-04) and was promoted to assistant coach prior to the start of the 2004-05 season.

Sufi has spent the last three seasons working in the Chinese Basketball Association and served as an assistant coach with the Anaheim Arsenal of the NBA Development League from 2007-09. He played professional basketball in the ABA and overseas.

Sposato joins Detroit after spending the last eight seasons working for the L.A. Clippers organization where he started as a video coordinator in 2005. Prior to the Clippers, he spent 2003-05 as the video coordinator of the Portland Trail Blazers on Cheeks’ staff.

Shaq happy to mentor DeMarcus Cousins

DeMarcus Cousins
Shaq happy to mentor DeMarcus Cousins
Still developing, in multiple ways

O’Neal, formally introduced Tuesday as a new minority owner of the Kings, said he’ll be available to help Cousins reach his potential on the court and transform the Kings back to the franchise that challenged his Lakers teams for championships.

It’s monitoring Cousins’ development as a player that O’Neal will concentrate on most.

“I understand everything that (Cousins is) going through,” O’Neal said Tuesday. “We have similar backgrounds. I understand everything he’s going through, and I speak his language. That’s why my conversation with him is going to be easy.”

Critics chided O’Neal for making movies and rap albums while his teams weren’t winning titles. O’Neal said it was a conversation with Lakers and Hall of Fame coach Phil Jackson that changed his direction and led him to championships.

Reported by Jason Jones of the Sacramento Bee

New Sacramento NBA arena may have interesting twist

The Sacramento Kings introduced their new celebrity part-owner Tuesday and pulled back the curtain on an “indoor-outdoor” concept they’re planning for the team’s new downtown arena.

At a news conference dominated by new partner Shaquille O’Neal, majority owner Vivek Ranadive dropped tantalizing hints about the design of the $448 million arena that’s supposed to open at Sacramento’s Downtown Plaza in 2016. While declining to release details, he said fans would be able to see certain events from outside the building.

Ranadive and O’Neal’s sometimes comical news conference kicked off a day’s worth of developments surrounding the Kings. Hours later, the City Council agreed to let the Kings accelerate repayment of their $62 million debt to the city by imposing a 5 percent surcharge on tickets at Sleep Train Arena, where the Kings now play. The council also OK’d a deal that would let the team reimburse the city for certain pre-development costs at the new building.

Reported by Dale Kasler, Ryan Lillis and Tony Bizjak of the Sacramento Bee

NBA

The 2015 NBA All-Star weekend will be split between two New York arenas, with Madison Square Garden to host the game, two people with knowledge of the plans said Tuesday.

Barclays Center in Brooklyn will host the Saturday skills events, the people confirmed to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the plans were to be announced at a press conference Wednesday.

Commissioner David Stern, Deputy Commissioner Adam Silver and New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg will attend the press conference, along with officials from Madison Square Garden and Barclays Center…

MSG is one of the most famous arenas in sports and has undergone a three-year renovation project. The $1 billion Barclays Center opened a year ago and has quickly landed many top entertainment events.

Reported by the Associated Press

New Milwaukee Bucks court design

Tonight at the Milwaukee Art Museum, the Bucks unveiled a new design for their new state-of-the-art playing surface at the BMO Harris Bradley Center.

A renowned pop artist famous for his “LOVE” artwork, Indiana created the design for the Bucks court that was used at the MECCA Arena from 1977-87. Indiana’s original floor, with bright colors and a giant “M” flanking each side of the midcourt line, is recognized as one of the largest pieces of pop art ever produced and brought international recognition to Milwaukee as a progressive, forward-thinking city that appreciates art as much as it does sport.

The Bucks’ brand new home court at the BMO Harris Bradley Center takes inspiration from Indiana’s original pop art design, reproducing the world-famous “M’s” bracketing the midcourt line – this time in two shades of hand-stained Wisconsin hard maple – along with the simple, yet unmistakable “Milwaukee” adorning each baseline, just as in Indiana’s iconic work of original art. At center court is the Bucks logo, stripped down to the aggressive image of the eight-point white tail buck head that represents the powerful and focused approach of the team. Painted surfaces of the court are almost exclusively green, tying together all eras of the Bucks’ 46-year history.

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