Archive for October, 2013

Grizzlies sign Quincy Pondexter to contract extension

The Memphis Grizzlies signed guard/forward Quincy Pondexter to a contract extension, the team announced today. According to CSNNW, the deal is for four years, $14 million.

Pondexter (6-6, 225) led the Grizzlies in three-point field goal percentage (career-high .395) in 59 games (one start) last season and also averaged career highs with 6.4 points and 2.2 rebounds in 21.1 minutes. He made 60 three-pointers last season after recording a total of 40 threes over his first two NBA seasons.

Pondexter further increased his production during the 2013 NBA Playoffs, averaging 8.9 points and 2.5 rebounds on .489 shooting (.453 3FG shooting) in 23.8 minutes in 15 postseason games. The 25-year-old posted 15.3 points and 3.3 rebounds on .537 shooting (.480 3FG shooting) in 32.0 minutes during the 2013 Western Conference Finals, leading the Grizzlies in scoring twice during the series.

After a 13-point performance in the 2013-14 season opener on Oct. 30 at San Antonio, Pondexter holds career averages of 4.5 points, 1.8 rebounds and 0.6 assists on .431 shooting (.366 3FG shooting) in 15.8 minutes in 190 games (15 starts) for Memphis and New Orleans.

Jared Sullinger

The Boston Celtics announced today that they have exercised a contract option on forward Jared Sullinger for the 2014-15 season.

This was an expected move. Sullinger is a talented young player and it makes sense to keep him around and see how he develops.

According to the Boston Herald, Sullinger will make $1,424,520 in the 2014-15 season.

Sullinger, a 6’9” forward, averaged 6.0 points and 5.9 rebounds in 19.8 minutes per game during the 2012-13 season. The second-year player only appeared in 45 games as a rookie for the Celtics before missing the final 37 games of the season due to lumbar disc surgery. Sullinger averaged 10.1 points, 4.6 rebounds, 1.3 assists and 1.0 steal in 20.6 minutes per game during the 2013 preseason. He notched preseason highs of 19 points and nine rebounds at Philadelphia on October 11.

Part-owner Shaq wants playoffs for Kings

Can the Sacramento Kings make the playoffs this season? Sure seems like a tough goal when you look at their roster. But new part-owner Shaquille O’Neal says a postseason spot is within the realm of possibility. Here’ the Sacramento Bee:

Part-owner Shaq wants playoffs for Kings

A postseason berth would be the franchise’s first since the 2005-06 season.

“Looking at the personnel here and the Western Conference, I think we can do it,” O’Neal said. “We can get a playoff spot. Our goal should be the playoffs.”

Bigs together – O’Neal said he will continue to work with DeMarcus Cousins, offering wisdom for the young center’s development on and off the court.

But only to a point.

“I won’t micromanage him,” O’Neal said. “He’s a young guy who is still growing up. I know he wants to be a great big man. I can show him the keys.”

The big victory for the Kings in recent years, as far as Sacramento is considered, is that the team is still in town and did not wind up being relocated to Seattle or elsewhere. Here’s the Sacramento Bee:

Kings

Standing at center court in Sleep Train Arena on Wednesday night amid smoke from exploding fireworks, new Kings owner Vivek Ranadive, microphone in hand, uttered a few words.

“Sacramento, I have just one thing to say to you,” he said, pausing, his face a mask of seriousness. “This is your team. And it is here to stay.”

A standing-room-only crowd in Sleep Train Arena exploded in cheers. It was a moment many here thought just six months ago would never happen. And yet, the Kings hosted a noisy, purple-hued celebration Wednesday in Natomas, launching their 29th and most improbable season in Sacramento.

The game, which the Kings won 90-88 over the Denver Nuggets, capped a triumphant night.

Many in the crowd said they had come to bask in the fact that Sacramento had somehow, over the last three years, fended off serious attempts by two cities to take the team – both of which seemed, at points, to be done deals.

Here’s the Denver Post on a key piece of the Nuggets who has been sidelined a bit longer than expected:

wilson chandler

Wilson Chandler’s face would never give away his sense of worry, of frustration, of most anything. He’s as even-keeled as they come.

And yet he’s been dealing with a nagging hamstring injury that cost him pretty much all of the preseason and has spilled into the regular season, sidelining him for Wednesday night’s season opener against Sacramento.

Chandler’s inability to get better is concerning to Nuggets coach Brian Shaw.

“I am concerned with that,” Shaw said. “But at this point, it’s the beginning of the season — hamstring, those kinds of muscle pulls, strains, tears, can hamper you and linger for a long time. I just want him to be able to get it right and feel confident that when he does he can come out there and be productive for us.”

To NBA fans, Allen Iverson, one of the most exciting guards in history, has basically been retired for several years now. But as for Iverson himself, it’s finally an official done deal as of yesterday. Here’s the Philadelphia Inquirer:

Allen Iverson

Allen Iverson, who last played in the NBA in 2010, formally announced his retirement, and like his career, it was done with flair.

Speaking at an afternoon news conference at the Wells Fargo Center, Iverson was emotional, talking about his career and those close to him.

Iverson was candid in his comments and unwavering in his belief in himself and what he stood for. When asked if there was anything he would change during a stormy career, he said, “No, not one thing.”

Then he expanded.

“It’s easy to say I wish I would have done things this way, but I can’t go back and rewind it back and do it all over. I am happy with the way I done it because it taught me a lot.”

Miles Plumlee steps up for Suns

The NBA season started Tuesday, and on Wedneday there were 14 games. One great performance came from an unexpected source. Here’s Arizona Sports:

It’s just one game and it came against an underwhelming Portland Trail Blazers team, but the Phoenix Suns’ revamped frontcourt had a solid season debut in Wednesday’s 104-91 win at US Airways Center.

Despite operating somewhat shorthanded with the recent trade of Marcin Gortat and the suspension of forward Markieff Morris, Phoenix’s bigs left their mark on a game that opened something of a new era for the Suns, who were debuting new jerseys, a new coach and an overhauled roster.

Center Miles Plumlee, acquired in an offseason trade with the Indiana Pacers, scored 18 points, grabbed 15 rebounds and blocked three shots — surpassing his 2012 season total for points and matching it in blocks.

Kenneth Faried

The Nuggets have exercised the fourth-year contract option on forward Kenneth Faried and the third-year option on guard Evan Fournier for 2014-15, general manager/executive vice president of basketball operations Tim Connelly announced today.

Faried, the 22nd overall pick in the 2011 NBA Draft, averaged 11.5 points and 9.2 rebounds – both career-highs – in 80 games for the Nuggets last season. He recorded 31 double-doubles and ranked ninth in the NBA in field-goal percentage (.552).

In 126 career games (119 starts), Faried has averaged 11.1 points and 8.6 rebounds, while posting 43 double-doubles. He was named to the NBA All-Rookie First Team in 2011-12.

In addition to his production on the court, Faried received the 2012-13 J. Walter Kennedy Citizenship Award presented annually by the Professional Basketball Writers Association.

Fournier, the 20th overall pick in 2012, averaged 5.3 points and 1.2 assists in 38 games as a rookie last season. He scored in double-figures in six of his final nine appearances, including a career-high 24 points against the Portland Trail Blazers on April 14.

Fournier, 21, turned pro as a teenager and played for Union Poitiers Basket 86 in France’s top pro league before entering the NBA Draft. He twice was named the French League’s Most Improved Player.

Bulls

The Chicago Bulls announced today the team has exercised its fourth-year option for the 2014-15 season for guard/forward Jimmy Butler, and its third-year option for the 2014-15 season for guard Marquis Teague. By exercising the respective player options, both players will be under contract with the Bulls for the 2014-15 season.

Butler (6-7, 220), appeared in all 82 games last season and posted averages of 8.6 ppg, 4.0 rpg and 1.4 apg in 26.0 mpg. He also shot .467 from the floor, .381 from beyond the arc and .803 from the line. During the 2013 Playoffs, Butler started in all 12 games and averaged 13.3 ppg, 5.2 rpg and 2.7 apg in 40.8 mpg. In Chicago’s first game of the 2013-14 season (against the Miami Heat), Butler posted 20 points, five steals, three rebounds and three assists in 29:55 of action.

Teague (6-2, 190), saw action in 48 games last season and averaged 2.1 ppg, 1.3 apg and 0.9 rpg in 8.2 mpg. He also appeared in eight playoffs games for Chicago last year.

The Wolves are looking to do big things from now on. With health and continued improvement from young, talented players, they have the potential to rise up. Here’s the Minneapolis Star Tribune:

Kevin Love

The Timberwolves spent $120 million last summer to add pieces around charismatic stars Kevin Love and Ricky Rubio in a league in which, more often than not, you only go as far as your best players take you.

They signed Corey Brewer for his energy and defense, Kevin Martin and Chase Budinger for their shooting and Nikola Pekovic for his muscle and low-post scoring, all in an attempt to finally reach the playoffs after a long decade away.

But if the Wolves indeed are headed that way for the first time since Kevin Garnett wore their uniform, it is Love and Rubio who will lead them with a two-man game — part old-school sensibilities, part new-school invention — that unsolicited teammates and opposing NBA coaches compare to a modern Stockton-Malone combination.

“That’s a pretty bold statement,” Wolves coach Rick Adelman said, taken aback at the mention of the Utah Jazz greats, point guard John Stockton and power forward Karl Malone. “I coached against those guys and those are two Hall of Famers who played together for 18 years. They invented, I guess, the pick-and-roll between the two of them.”

Here’s Michigan Live on what the Pistons frontcourt brings to the table:

andre drummond

With Andre Drummond at center, Greg Monroe shifting from center to power forward, and [Josh] Smith at small forward, the Pistons have a powerhouse front line.

Their hope is that gains in rebounding and defensive rim protection counteract any issues in offensive spacing caused by playing Smith at small forward.

To the Pistons’ benefit, Smith and Monroe are willing passers who can operate as post hubs, while Drummond is content to rebound and run pick-and-rolls. They all seem capable of playing with any group of teammates.

That was proven to some extent in preseason, when Will Bynum was the only veteran playmaking guard who regularly participated in games. Billups took most of preseason off to preserve his 37-year-old body, Jennings missed most of it after surgery for an impacted wisdom tooth and hairline jaw fracture, and Rodney Stuckey missed most of it after surgery for a broken thumb.

The point guard position is one of the NBA’s hardest. And it’s even tougher when you are a rookie, and on a rebuilding team, and going against some nasty opponents. Here’s the Philadelphia Inquirer:

Michael Carter-Williams will not get the opportunity to ease his way into the NBA.

In six of the first seven games, the 76ers’ rookie point guard will introduce himself to a Murderers Row of point guards in the league.

He will be matched up against Washington’s John Wall twice, Chicago’s Derrick Rose, Golden State’s Stephen Curry, and twice against Cleveland’s Kyrie Irving.

It’s a brutal challenge that the 6-foot-6, 185-pounder says he welcomes.

“It’s a big learning experience for me to see what I can get better on against the best of the best,” Carter-Williams said.

The Dallas Mavericks announced today that Gersson Rosas has resigned as the General Manager.

“I made the personal decision to resign as General Manager of the Dallas Mavericks after determining that the position was not the best fit for me at this point in my career,” said Rosas. “The decision was made solely by me, as I firmly believe this change is in my best interest.”

“Mark Cuban asked me to reconsider my decision, but graciously accepted my decision and we part as friends, Rosas continued. “I would like to thank Mark and the Dallas Mavericks for the opportunity.”

“I was disappointed when Gersson told me of his decision, but I understand and all of us wish him the best,” Cuban said.

Rosas was hired as the team’s General Manager on Aug. 1, 2013.

The Utah Jazz announced today that the team has elected to exercise its fourth-year team options for guard Alec Burks and center Enes Kanter.  The options for both players are through the 2014-15 season.

Burks (6-6, 205, Colorado) is entering his third NBA season after appearing in 64 games (all as a reserve) and averaging 7.0 points, 2.3 rebounds and 1.4 assists in 17.8 minutes during his sophomore season for the Jazz in 2012-13.  He scored in double figures on 19 occasions, including a career-high 26 points in 27 minutes at Sacramento on February 9.

The 22-year-old was originally selected by the Jazz with the 12th overall pick of the 2011 NBA Draft.  Burks averaged 11.0 points, 2.6 rebounds and 2.8 assists in 23.9 minutes in eight preseason games for the Jazz.

The 21-year-old Kanter (6-11, 248, Kentucky) is also entering his third NBA season after appearing in 70 games (two starts) for the Jazz in 2012-13 and improving his averages in every major statistical category over his rookie campaign.

The center from Turkey averaged 7.2 points and 4.3 rebounds while shooting .544 from the field in 15.4 minutes during his second season, scoring in double figures 22 times and grabbing double-digit rebounds twice, including career highs of 23 points and 22 rebounds vs. Charlotte on March 1.

Originally selected by the Jazz in the first round (third overall) of the 2011 NBA Draft, Kanter averaged 12.1 points and 5.5 rebounds on .513 (41-80) shooting in 23.6 minutes per game during the 2013 preseason.

It’s going to be a rough year for the Phoenix Suns. There’s no other way to say it. Here are a few of the many reasons why, via Arizona Sports:

The Phoenix Suns are one day away from a new era.

Jeff Hornacek will make his debut as an NBA head coach Wednesday night as the Suns host the Portland Trail Blazers in the 2013-14 season opener for both teams at US Airways Center.

The first-year head coach will take the court with one of the youngest and most inexperienced teams in the league — especially at the center spot.

After last week’s trade of Marcin Gortat to the Washington Wizards, the Suns are left with three post players — Miles Plumlee, Alex Len and Viacheslav Kravtsov — who have a combined 279 minutes of NBA playing experience.

The Miami Heat are still considered the best team in the East — and the league. But on paper, the Brooklyn Nets look able to at least compete with the champs. And Shaquille O’Neal agrees. Here’s the New York Daily News:

Kevin Garnett

The big-name acquisitions made over the summer by GM Billy King have the Nets talking NBA title contention. But the championship rhetoric isn’t contained within the confines of the Barclays Center or the team’s training site in East Rutherford.

Some believe the Nets have what it takes to knock LeBron James and the two-time defending NBA champion Miami Heat from their perch. Former NBA great and current TNT analyst Shaquille O’Neal is one of them. He feels Brooklyn’s title aspirations are legitimate, provided its star players can stay on the court and build chemistry.

“If they can stay healthy, I think they can give Miami a run,” O’Neal said Monday at a TNT luncheon in New York, according to SI’s Richard Deitsch. “If they come together, I think they can take Miami.”

The consensus at Nets practice Monday was they were appreciative of his comments and agree with his qualifier regarding the team’s health.

A healthy and even more efficient Dwyane Wade would be a scary thing for anyone playing against the Miami Heat. But if all goes as planned, that’s exactly what the Heat will have as a weapon. Here’s the Miami Herald:

dwyane wade

Practice had long since ended last week, but there was Dwyane Wade — the last player on the floor — working with assistant David Fizdale on polishing his post moves.

Indiana coach Tom Crean, his close friend and former coach at Marquette, pointed out this summer that Wade is “one of the most efficient players to ever play the game.”

But even after finishing seventh in last season’s NBA’s efficiency ratings — he was second or third the previous four years — Wade said in no uncertain terms: “I’ve got to be way more efficient than I’ve ever been.”

Wade, off July’s Ossatron knee treatment, has looked very good — “best I’ve seen him since year one,” LeBron James said earlier in camp — and how his game evolves, at 31, will be fascinating.

We all hate to see top NBA stars fade away into the sunset. But as for Dirk Nowitzki, maybe he’ll remain effective longer than some people expect. Here’s the Fort Worth Star-Telegram:

How many years does Dirk Nowitzki have left?

On paper, forward Dirk Nowitzki might be in the twilight of his career. But owner Mark Cuban is hopeful the 35-year old 11-time All-Star can play until he’s 40 years old.

“Dirk is [serious] about his health — he’s disciplined,” Cuban said. “He won’t eat fried foods during the season, he won’t drink during the season.

“He’s disciplined enough that I think he sees guys like [38-year-old Miami Heat guard] Ray Allen and others who are going later and later and later. So who knows? I won’t put a limit on him.”

Cuban said because Nowitzki is conscious about exercise and watching his caloric intake, his career could extend a few more years.

Here is a statement from the Boston Celtics:

The Boston Celtics announced today that they have suspended forward Jared Sullinger one game for his role in an incident that occurred on August 31, 2013. The suspension will be served during the team’s game at Toronto on October 30, 2013.

“Jared’s case was dismissed yesterday in Waltham District Court,” said Celtics President of Basketball Operations Danny Ainge. “While we are satisfied that this was the correct ruling, we are suspending Jared for one game because he failed to meet the high expectations we have for all Celtics employees.”

The team will have no further comment on this matter.

Charges against Jared Sullinger dropped

Good news for Boston Celtics big man Jared Sullinger, as charges against him have been dismissed. Here’s the Boston Globe:

jared sullinger

Forward Jared Sullinger practiced with the Celtics here Monday hours after domestic violence charges against him were dismissed in Waltham District Court.

The charges, which included assault and battery, destruction of property, and witness intimidation, stemmed from an altercation Sullinger had with his girlfriend in August at his apartment in Waltham…

The charges were dismissed after Sullinger’s girlfriend, Deann Smith, told authorities that she would not testify against him.

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