Archive for December, 2013

The Chicago Bulls announced today the team has assigned guard Marquis Teague to the Iowa Energy of the NBA Development League (D-League).

Teague (6-2, 190) has appeared in 19 games (two starts) for the Bulls this season and averaged 2.4 ppg, 1.5 apg and 1.0 rpg in 12.7 mpg.

Teague was selected by Chicago in the first round (29th overall) of the 2012 NBA Draft, after helping lead the University of Kentucky to the 2012 NCAA Championship.

Here’s the New York Daily News reporting on the Brooklyn Nets, who on Wednesday lost at home to the Chicago Bulls:

The Nets have now dropped four straight games, and the holiday season only grows more desperate from here. After one gimme at home Friday against Milwaukee, they embark on a three-game road trip to Indiana, San Antonio and Oklahoma City. So you can put them down right now for seven losses in eight games and a probable 10-22 mark, as they fade even faster than the Knicks. The Nets are free-falling into such a deep hole right now that Kidd has begun to look and sound as defeated as his team, rarely getting off his chair anymore to rally the disheartened, inert troops.

Kidd has now scolded his players many times for their performances, to no avail. He has benched guys. He has tried to simplify the offense. He’s euphemized all the slumps as “a process.” He has demoted Lawrence Frank, the defensive specialist. He doesn’t appear to have any tricks left. If Mikhail Prokhorov finally threatens to replace his coach, you get the feeling Kidd might quote Humphrey Bogart in “Casablanca”: “Go ahead and shoot. You’ll be doing me a favor.”

The rout on Wednesday was all too remindful of what happened last spring, when Chicago came to Brooklyn and stole Game 7 in the playoffs. That defeat resulted in the firing of P.J. Carlesimo and the mortgaging of the team’s future for a core of Celtic players who were supposed to transform the Nets into something much tougher and meaner than this.

Here’s the Houston Chronicle with a report on Rockets center Omer Asik, who has been on the trading block for much of this season:

Omer Asik struggles with recovery from knee injury

The Rockets were not only still without center Omer Asik – and will not have him for the immediate future at least – they were also still unsure why he has been unable to make improvement from his injury.

Asik has repeatedly been able to make strides and greatly increase workouts, but each time he seems close to being able to return, the swelling in his knee returns. The Rockets sent him for the more detailed MRI last week, but it showed no damage to the knee. They have sent those test results to another expert, hoping to get a better idea of why the problem remains so persistent.

Asik initially went out after a bruised thigh Dec. 2. Swelling developed in his knee soon after, forcing him to miss the next 11 games, an absence made an even greater issue with backup center Greg Smith also out.

Here’s the Sacramento Bee reporting on 5-9, 185-pound Kings guard Isaiah Thomas, who is having an impressive season:

Isaiah Thomas having great season for Sacramento Kings

Since being drafted at No. 60 in 2011 – a resounding last – Thomas has nudged Tyreke Evans off the ball, outperformed his more celebrated teammate Jimmer Fredette, outplayed veteran Aaron Brooks, beat out Greivis Vasquez, the pass-first point guard who was acquired during the offseason and traded again before the turkey and dressing had cooled.

Finally, or for now at least since there should be nothing final about a team with an 8-19 record, Thomas has his own team to run. And he has shown no signs of slowing down. In his eight games as lead guard, he is averaging 20.9 points, 7.1 assists and 3.2 rebounds, numbers that most diminutive NBA guards of the modern era (Muggsy Bogues, Earl Boykins, Nate Robinson, Keith Jennings, Spud Webb, among them) couldn’t reach with a step ladder.

“I’ve always been the shortest guy out there,” Thomas said the other night, “and always had to make adjustments. You have to use different moves, tactics, either to shoot over the defense or get past people.”

A sampling of the left-hander’s favorite offerings include high-arching floaters, 3-pointers in transition, stepback 19-footers, hesitation dribble-drives that freeze defenders and open the lane for dunks, bank shots, layups and an increasing array of off-balance circus shots he admits stealing from colleagues Steve Nash, Jason Terry and Chris Paul, all of whom beat him by a few inches.

Gilbert Arenas hopes for NBA comeback

Here’s TMZ reporting on a former beloved NBA player who really should keep the sneakers hung up in the closet at this point. It’s unlikely that any team would sign Gilbert Arenas at this point, but here’s the story:

Gilbert Arenas hopes for NBA comeback

Gilbert Arenas has had a change of heart … telling TMZ Sports he’s abandoned his plans to retire from pro basketball … and he’s currently training to RETURN TO THE NBA!!

It was just last month, Agent Zero told us he was walking away from the sport forever … happily … ’cause he’s still got another $38 million coming his way from the $111 million contract he signed with the Washington Wizards back in the day.

Dirk Nowitzki, still an NBA star

Here’s the Fort Worth Star-Telegram on Dallas Mavericks star Dirk Nowitzki, who is still a force in basketball:

Dirk Nowitzki, still an NBA star

The greatness that is Dirk Nowitzki struck again Monday night at the Toyota Center.

Nowitzki poured in a game-high 31 points and converted 11-of-18 shots while leading the Dallas Mavericks to a 111-104 victory over the Houston Rockets. Afterward, leave it to forward Vince Carter to explain why Nowitzki will go down in history as one of the greatest to ever play in the NBA.

“He’s very confident and he understands who he is and how he can dominate the game,” Carter said. “And that’s a dangerous player to me is a guy who knows, ‘Hey, I might not take you off the dribble, but at the same time, I’m going to score all day.’

“He has you at his mercy, and I think he also does a great job of just letting [the game] come to him.”

Kevin Garnett discusses Nets struggles

The Brooklyn Nets are 9-18 and have had a very tough season. In their defense, injuries have played a big factor in their struggles. Still, the team is under-performing. Here’s the New York Daily News reporting:

Kevin Garnett discusses Brooklyn Nets struggles

A day after Jason Kidd blasted the Nets as being comfortable with losing, Kevin Garnett acknowledged they were a team without an identity – another depressing admission about a third into the season — but stopped short of seconding his coach.

“I wouldn’t agree with that. Personally, I can only control myself and I’d never step on the floor if I never was going to accept anything less than (wanting to win),” Garnett said ahead of Brooklyn’s Christmas noon showdown against the Bulls at Barclays Center. “I’m not built like that, and I don’t think my teammates are built like that. Obviously we’re going through a tough time. That’s (Kidd’s) assessment. I don’t think it’s true.”

Garnett, 37, again reiterated that his lack of production this season is a result of his reduced role, not a personal struggle or a decline in his game.

Still, he admitted — somewhat stubbornly — that might have to change with the season-ending injury to Brook Lopez. Garnett is averaging just 6.7 points while shooting 37.5% in 22 minutes per game – career lows, by far, if sustained.

Here’s the Las Vegas Review-Journal reporting on an interesting possibility:

Former UNLV and NBA basketball player Jackie Robinson is proposing a $1.3 billion, privately funded 22,000-seat arena and resort on the Strip. The $1.3 billion includes $690 million for the arena.

Robinson is calling it, for now, the All Net Arena and Resort, because he does not have an official name for the venue. He said he plans to pursue an arena naming rights deal. His company is All Net Arena LLC, he said.

Robinson wants to build between the under-construction SLS Las Vegas hotel-casino and the halted Fontainebleau project. He hopes to break ground in the spring and open the arena in December 2016.

Robinson said he is financing the arena-resort through a $250 million equity raise, federal tax credits, a construction loan and the federal “EB-5 visa” program, which allows foreign investors to get visas if they invest $500,000 in projects. He said he is working with the Department of Commerce Minority Business Development Agency to recruit foreign investors from India and China.

Here’s the Indianapolis Star on veteran Rasual Butler enjoying himself as a member of the Indiana Pacers. Butler plays just 5.8 minutes per game, but he’s a part of a winning team with legit championship aspirations.

Rasual Butler happy to be with Pacers

Butler has recaptured his NBA career just by staying ready.

During 2011-12, he was waived by the Toronto Raptors and remained without an NBA job for the entire next season. Butler had bounced around five teams in 10 years, thought of as just a spot-up shooter and possibly, one close advocate believes, considered a veteran who wasn’t worth the trouble.

Forget one foot, Butler had nine toes out of the very exclusive club that no basketball player ever wants to be escorted away from. But he remained humble, hungry and, most of all, ready. After a year spent remaking his body then accepting the lowly assignments of Development League standout and Summer League old head, Butler has returned to the NBA.

“You don’t get too many of those,” says Geo Aispuro, the basketball trainer who worked out with Butler for nearly a year so he could return to the NBA. “You get a lot of guys that drop out but you just never get those guys that drop out and get back into the league.”

Butler has this old soul about him. He speaks like a late-night DJ spinning jazz records and even breaks up the uncensored jocularity in the Pacers’ locker room whenever he feels the ribbing could go too far. Butler carries the sophistication of well-traveled diplomat and shares wisdom like the neighborhood lifer. But really, he’s just a man who’s seen his share of twists and turns and now feels grateful for this time of stability.

Paul Pierce fined for hard foul on George Hill

Brooklyn Nets forward Paul Pierce has been fined $15,000 for making excessive and unnecessary contact with George Hill of the Indiana Pacers, it was announced today by Rod Thorn, President, Basketball Operations.

The incident, which was called a Flagrant Foul 2, occurred with 4:22 remaining in the third quarter of the Nets’ 103-86 loss the Pacers on Monday Dec. 23, at Barclays Center.

Memphis Grizzlies sign Seth Curry

The Memphis Grizzlies signed guard Seth Curry of the NBA Development League’s Santa Cruz Warriors, the team announced today.

Curry (6-1, 180) comes to Memphis after averaging 21.3 points, 3.5 rebounds, 7.8 assists and 1.58 steals on .439 shooting in 37.3 minutes in 12 games (11 starts) for Santa Cruz this season.  The 23-year-old ranks 10th in the D-League in scoring and second in assists per game.  He has scored 20-or-more points seven times, including a career-high 36 in his D-League debut on Nov. 22 vs. Austin, and has recorded three double-doubles.

Curry went undrafted in the 2013 NBA Draft following his senior season at Duke University in which he ranked second in the Atlantic Coast Conference in scoring (team-high 17.5 points) and three-point field goal percentage (.438) and garnered First Team All-ACC and Second Team All-America honors.  He averaged 21.0 points in four games during the 2013 NCAA Tournament, including a 29-point performance in a Sweet 16 victory over Michigan State on March 29, 2013.  Curry played the majority of the season with a right lower leg injury, which kept him out of the majority of the Blue Devils’ practices, and had surgery to repair the injury on April 15, 2013.

The Charlotte, N.C. native averaged 13.2 points, 2.3 rebounds and 2.0 steals in 29.1 minutes in 106 games (86 starts) in three seasons at Duke.  He left Duke ranked third on the school’s all-time list in three-point field goal percentage (.420), fifth in free throw percentage (.825) and eighth in three-point field goals made (223).  Curry began his collegiate career at Liberty University, where he was named the 2009 Big South Freshman of the Year after averaging 20.2 points.

Curry is the younger brother of Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry, who set the NBA single-season record for three point field goals made (272) last season.  Seth joined Stephen in Golden State after signing as a free agent on Aug. 23, 2013 but was waived on Oct. 25, 2013 following the preseason.  The duo is the highest-scoring brother tandem in NCAA history, finishing their collegiate careers with a combined 4,736 points (Stephen – 2,635 points at Davidson; Seth – 2,101 points at Duke and Liberty).

He also is the son of prolific NBA three-point shooter Dell Curry, who shot at least 40 percent from three-point range in nine of his 16 NBA seasons and recorded a career three-point percentage of .402 in 1,083 games.

Curry will wear uniform no. 1.

matt barnes

Los Angeles Clippers forward Matt Barnes has been fined $25,000 for failing to leave the court in a timely manner upon his ejection, it was announced today by Rod Thorn, President, Basketball Operations.

The incident, which was called a Flagrant Foul 2 on the floor and downgraded to a Flagrant Foul 1 upon league office review, occurred with 56.8 remaining in the third quarter of the Clippers’ 120-116 OT victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves on Sunday Dec. 22, at Staples Center.

Barnes has gained a reputation as an intense player who also sometimes loses his cool, resulting in hard fouls, techs and ejections. His ultra-competitiveness generally helps his team, except when it results in the opposing squad getting to shoot some extra free throws.

Charlotte Bobcats forward Jeff Taylor underwent successful surgery today to repair the rupture in his right Achilles tendon that he suffered in Friday’s game at Detroit. The surgery was performed by foot specialist Dr. Bob Anderson.

Following four weeks of non-weight bearing, Taylor will begin the rehabilitation process. The standard timeline for recovery is 6-9 months.

THUNDER ROLLS: That Kevin Durant is leading the NBA in scoring (28.1 ppg) isn’t exactly front-page news. Having captured three scoring titles in four seasons, and well on his way to a fourth in five, Durant has cemented his place as one of the elite scorers in the history of the NBA. Like many greats that came before, Durant has continued to expand his game, averaging career highs in rebounds (8.1 rpg), assists (4.7 apg) and steals (1.6 spg) this season, as the Thunder – which had a nine-game winning streak snapped last night against Toronto — has raced out to a 22-5 start. Hardly a one-man show, Oklahoma City is getting its usual gaudy production from Russell Westbrook – 23.8 points, 8.0 rebounds and 7.4 assists over his last five games – and steady bench production from super sixth man Reggie Jackson, who’s averaging 12.3 points in a breakout third NBA season. OKC visits the New York Knicks on Christmas Day on ABC (2:30 p.m.).

CURRYING FAVOR: The Warriors have come back to earth a bit after a brisk 7-2 start, thanks in large part to the absence of do-it-all forward Andre Iguodala. That hasn’t stopped Stephen Curry from fashioning one of the best individual starts to a season in recent memory, averaging 24.3 points, 9.2 assists and 4.2 rebounds, while shooting 46 percent from the field, 42 percent from distance and 89 percent from the free throw line. Curry, the NBA’s fourth-leading scorer and second-best assist man, is on pace to become the first player to average at least 24 points and nine assists since Michael Adams during the 1990-91 season. It would be a major surprise if Curry didn’t play in his first All-Star Game this February. Curry and the Warriors host the L.A. Clippers on Christmas Night (10:30 p.m.) on ESPN.

CLIPPERS STARTING TO CLICK: Since Doc Rivers inserted super-sub Jamal Crawford into the starting lineup, the Clippers have won five straight – including a 115-92 dismantling of the Spurs on Dec. 16 — with Crawford averaging 20.0 points and 3.2 assists. Los Angeles has also welcomed back Matt Barnes, who’s been out with an eye injury since Nov. 18. The usual suspects continue to do their thing. Blake Griffin is one of only three players (Kevin Love, DeMarcus Cousins) in the NBA averaging at least 20 points, 10 rebounds and three assists. Chris Paul leads the NBA in assists (11.2 apg), while averaging 19.2 points, up from 16.9 in 2012-13. DeAndre Jordan is third in the NBA in rebounding (13.1 rpg) and fourth in blocks (2.17 bpg). Enjoy the Clip-Show on Christmas Night against Golden State on ESPN.

– NBA Broadcasters Bulletin

Brook Lopez kept playing through injury

Here’s the New York Post with additional insight on the injury to Brooklyn Nets center Brook Lopez:

Brook Lopez kept playing through injury

When Alan Anderson woke up Saturday morning, he got a text message from a friend saying Brook Lopez was “out” and didn’t know what to think.

“I thought they meant outside, like out somewhere,” Anderson said after Sunday’s practice, shaking his head. “Then I saw it on the screen and called the trainers and said, ‘This can’t be right.’ But they said it’s right.”

The news Lopez was lost for the season after suffering a fractured fifth metatarsal in his right foot during Friday night’s loss in Philadelphia caught everyone by surprise. The center played the final 10 minutes of regulation and overtime after initially getting hurt when he got tangled up with Evan Turner and Thaddeus Young midway through the fourth quarter.

“No one knew,” Nets coach Jason Kidd said. “That just shows how tough Brook is.”

Here’s ESPN Chicago pondering a very important question for the Chicago Bulls:

Should the Bulls trade Luol Deng?

It’s the question that Bulls fans continue to wonder about as another lost campaign rolls along. The question for the organization remains the same as it was the instant Derrick Rose went down Nov. 22 with a torn meniscus. How much is Deng, who will become a free agent at the end of this season, worth on the trade market — and the open market?

Let’s tackle the trade-market aspect of this first. I might be in a minority, but I’m still convinced that if the Bulls get the right package in return for Deng, they will deal him before the Feb. 20 trade deadline. The problem for them is that no team appears to be willing to give up a future first-round pick plus the expiring contracts it would take to get it done. The biggest hurdle for the Bulls in any potential Deng trade, aside from his impending free agency, is that he is making more than $14 million this season. That will take a lot of excess money to get something accomplished in order to make the numbers work. The Bulls love Deng, but they have a pretty clear indication that there is a wide gap between how they value him and how Deng and his agents value him in the future.

Here’s the New York Post on the latest Knicks struggles:

Knicks embarrassed on the boards in loss to Grizzlies

The coach admitted his team’s rebounding was embarrassing, and the star player acknowledged the home struggles have gotten into their heads. There was no denying either after the Knicks’ 95-87 defeat to Memphis Saturday, when they got humiliated on the boards and matched their home loss total for all of last season.

Mike Woodson tried to counter their matinee woes with a 10 p.m. curfew Friday night, and tried to match up against Memphis with a big lineup of Carmelo Anthony, Andrea Bargnani and Tyson Chandler. Neither worked, as they were badly out-rebounded and booed by the Garden crowd yet again. After going 31-10 at home last season, they fell to 4-10 at the Garden this season.

“You look at the rebounding, it was 55-29. That’s embarrassing, especially when you start a big lineup,’’ said Woodson, whose Knicks are 0-3 in noon starts. “Tyson, Bargnani, Melo, they’ve got to rebound the ball better. We’ve got to do it as a unit as well. That was the difference, then the fact that we gave so much up at the rim. … We couldn’t keep them out of the paint. That was the problem.’’

Charlotte Bobcats forward Jeffery Taylor is expected to miss the remainder of the season after an MRI this morning revealed a rupture in his right Achilles tendon.  Taylor suffered the injury in the first minute of last night’s game at Detroit.

Taylor is expected to meet with foot specialist Dr. Bob Anderson in the coming days to determine the next steps.

Taylor saw action in 26 games for the Bobcats this season, starting eight.  He averaged 8.0 points and 2.3 rebounds in 24.2 minutes

Danny Granger finally back for Pacers

Here’s the Indianapolis Star reporting on the Pacers getting even stronger:

Danny Granger finally back for Pacers

Danny Granger’s absence for most of the past 18 months caused some angst among Indiana Pacers fans. They wondered how the team’s top player for so many years would fit in with a group that was doing quite nicely without him.

But no matter the misgivings, they showered him with love when he played for the first time this season during a 114-81 victory over the Houston Rockets on Friday night at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.

Granger, who missed the first 25 games because of a calf strain, went to the scorer’s table along with Luis Scola to check in with about 4½ minutes left in the first quarter. The sellout crowd of 18,165 started cheering loudly and Area 55 — the fan section sponsored by teammate Roy Hibbert — started a “Danny, Danny” chant that quickly spread.

He got a standing ovation when he officially checked in with 4:05 remaining. He made his presence felt on the defensive end, coming from the weak side to block a shot by Houston’s Dwight Howard.

Here’s ESPN New York reporting on Metta World Peace trying to find peace with his knees:

Metta World Peace dealing with knee issues

Metta World Peace sat out of Saturday’s game against Memphis with a left knee issue that may keep him out for an extended period.

The veteran forward said before Saturday’s game he’s unsure if he can play Monday against Orlando.

“I just have to take some time. We’ll see how long,” he said.

Any issue surrounding World Peace’s left knee is a bit of a concern for the Knicks.

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