Archive for June 6th, 2014

Quin Snyder is new Jazz coach

The Utah Jazz announced today that the team has named Quin Snyder as head coach.  Per team policy, financial terms were not released.  Snyder is the eighth head coach in Jazz history and the fifth since the franchise’s relocation to Utah in 1979.  Snyder will be formally introduced at a press conference on Saturday.

“On behalf of the Miller family, I welcome Quin Snyder as the new head coach of the Utah Jazz,” said Greg Miller, chief executive officer of the Larry H. Miller Group of Companies.  “He has an impressive basketball pedigree, including more than a decade of head coaching experience that positions him well to succeed in the Jazz organization.  We look forward to Quin’s contributions both on the court and in the community.”

Snyder possesses a diverse coaching background that spans more than two decades in the NBA, Europe, the NBA Development League and college, including 10 years of experience as a head coach.

“We were very disciplined and thorough in our process, which has resulted in hiring Quin to lead this team into a new era for Jazz basketball,” said Utah Jazz President Randy Rigby. “He has been affiliated with tremendous coaches and programs throughout his career from Duke University to the Atlanta Hawks.  We have received overwhelmingly positive feedback regarding Quin from some of the most respected basketball minds in the game.”

From 2007-10, Snyder served as head coach of the Austin Toros of the NBA Development League (the D-League affiliate of the San Antonio Spurs), where he recorded a 94-56 (.627) mark, while leading the club to playoff appearances in all three seasons and advancing to at least the D-League Semifinals each year.  In his first season with the Toros, Snyder inherited a team that had finished the prior season 21-29, and led them to a 30-20 record, a Southwest Division title and an appearance in the 2008 D-League Finals.  He followed that with consecutive 32-18 campaigns and first-round playoff wins, earning the D-League’s 2009 Dennis Johnson Coach of the Year honors and a selection as head coach of the 2009 D-League All-Star Game in Phoenix.  During his three-year tenure in Austin, Snyder compiled more wins and guided more players to the NBA than any other coach in the D-League.

His first head coaching position came at the University of Missouri, where in seven seasons (1999-2006), he led the Tigers to a 128-96 (.571) record and four NCAA Tournaments, including an Elite Eight appearance in 2002.

“Quin Snyder combines a unique skillset with several intangibles that makes him the right fit for our team and approach to basketball,” said Jazz General Manager Dennis Lindsey.  “He is passionate about the game and has a 20-year track record of teaching and developing young talent.  His personality, work ethic and communications skills are important traits that will benefit the Utah Jazz.  We have taken a significant and exciting step forward in the evolution of this franchise.”

Snyder most recently completed his first season as an assistant coach for the Atlanta Hawks in 2013-14 under Mike Budenholzer, helping the Hawks to a 2014 playoff appearance.  He has also served as an assistant with CSKA Moscow (2012-13) for Ettore Messina, worked as an assistant coach with the Los Angeles Lakers in 2011-12 with Mike Brown and the Philadelphia 76ers in 2010-11 alongside Doug Collins.  Prior to being hired as head coach at Missouri, Snyder served as associate head coach to Mike Krzyzewski at Duke from 1993-99, and as an assistant for Larry Brown with the 1992-93 Los Angeles Clippers.

“The opportunity to join the Utah Jazz and to be part of such a highly respected franchise with an incredibly bright future is a great honor,” Snyder said. “I approach this opportunity with gratitude and humility and am committed to doing everything I can to help the Jazz become a championship-caliber team.”

Born in Mercer Island, Wash., Snyder was a two-time Washington player of the year and a McDonald’s All-American.  He played collegiately at Duke (1985-89), appearing in 136 games for the Blue Devils and reaching three Final Fours.  He was elected as a team captain and honored as an Academic All-American during his senior season.

Here’s the Philadelphia Daily News reporting on the 76ers:

The 76ers are a step closer to building a dream practice facility in Camden, according to an NBA source.

Friday, the organization filed for a tax credit in New Jersey, the first process to landing the site, which is located between the city’s Aquarium and Susquehanna Bank Center.

“This is going to be the premier practice facility in the league,” the source said. “There are still other steps to go through to get it finalized, but it appears as if there should be nothing to hold up the process now.”

The Spurs beat the Heat 110-95 Thursday to take a 1-0 NBA Finals lead. For seven minutes of great entertainment, enjoy the video highlights in this Game 1 “minimovie.”

Here’s the South Florida Sun Sentinel reporting on the Heat-Spurs NBA Finals:

LeBron James definitely expects to play NBA Finals Game 2

The flair for the dramatic was back, even if it temporarily might have stopped the hearts of Miami Heat teammates still reeling from the impact of his Thursday departure.

“If I had to say today,” LeBron James told a packed press conference Friday at the San Antonio Spurs’ practice facility, “I would probably be out on Sunday. I probably won’t play.”

He paused. Some gasped. Then he smiled.

“No, I’ll be all right,” he continued. “I’ll be in uniform on Sunday. I should be 100 percent on Sunday.”

With treatment ongoing for the cramping that sidelined the All-Star forward for the decisive latter stages of the Heat’s 110-95 Thursday loss to the Spurs at the AT&T Center in Game 1 of the best-of-seven NBA Finals, James said extensive overnight hydration, round-the-clock therapy and a return to air-conditioned confines had him in a far better place than those sweltering and debilitation hours when he attempted to play through the air-conditioning malfunction at the Spurs’ arena.

Here’s the Salt Lake Tribune reporting on the Jazz:

Utah Jazz may see Derrick Favors as a center

The Utah Jazz have recently made a potentially significant decision, with VP of player Personnel Walt Perrin telling The Tribune on Thursday that the organization sees Derrick Favors as more of a center than power forward.

That is perhaps the strongest indicator yet that Enes Kanter could be on the trading block. Yes, Kanter can play power forward. But he’s much more of a center, and while he and Favors can play at the same time, both aren’t going to play major minutes at the same spot.

It’s also a sign that the Jazz could be taking a hard look at Indiana big man Noah Vonleh with their No. 5 pick of the upcoming NBA Draft. Last week, Perrin flew to New York to see the 6-foot-9 Vonleh, who left the Hoosiers after a one-and-done freshman season. Perrin also said the team would get Vonleh in for a private workout, sometime in the next three weeks.

The Minnesota Timberwolves today named Flip Saunders as the franchise’s head coach. Saunders served as head coach of the Timberwolves from 1995 to 2005 leading the team to its most successful years, highlighted by a trip to the 2004 Western Conference Finals. Saunders will remain as the team’s President of Basketball Operations, a position he assumed in May of 2013.

“After an exhaustive process and several thorough discussions with Flip, we came to the conclusion that he was the stabilizing force needed to lead our team,” Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor said. “Flip led us to our most successful seasons; he knows what it takes to win in the NBA as his track record speaks for itself. He is widely known as one of the most creative basketball minds and I believe he is the right coach to lead our team. Flip and Milt Newton provide our front office the synergy needed to put our franchise in the best position to succeed now and in the future.”

As head coach of the Timberwolves from 1995-96 to 2004-05, Saunders led the club to eight consecutive playoff appearances and a Western Conference-best and franchise-best 58-24 record in 2003-04 — a season that concluded with a berth in the Western Conference Finals. During his tenure in Minnesota, Saunders won NBA Western Conference Coach of the Month honors four times (April ’04, Feb. ’03, Jan. ’01, Jan. ’00) and coached the Western Conference squad during the 2004 NBA All-Star Game in Los Angeles. Saunders is the Wolves’ all-time winningest coach, posting a winning record in six of his eight full seasons as head coach and compiling an overall record of 411-326 (.558).

“In talking to Glen, we came to the decision that this outcome would be the best for our franchise,” Saunders said. “I will work tirelessly to bring back the success our franchise experienced in the late ’90s to early 2000s. To that end, I will assemble a diverse, experienced coaching staff that will bring out the best in our players. Milt and I will continue to make the necessary moves that we believe will help our franchise return to the playoffs.”

After a successful stint with the Timberwolves, Saunders took the coaching reins of Detroit where he led the Pistons to three consecutive Central Division crowns from 2005 to 2008. In three seasons at the helm, Saunders finished with a record of 176-70 (.715), including finishing with the best record in the Eastern Conference twice (2005-06, 2006-07). Saunders most recently spent two-plus seasons (2009-10 - 2011-12) as the head coach of the Washington Wizards. Overall, Saunders has seven 50-win seasons to his credit as an NBA head coach, with four Conference Finals appearances in 11 trips to the postseason. Saunders is one of three NBA coaches to make at least four Conference Finals appearances over the last 10 seasons (Popovich, Spoelstra) and his 638 coaching wins rank 20th on the all-time list and third among all active NBA head coaches.

Prior to his time in the NBA, Saunders directed three different teams to seven consecutive seasons of 30 or more victories in the CBA, two CBA Championships (‘90, ‘92) and earned a pair of CBA Coach of the Year honors (‘90, ‘92). Saunders’ CBA experience includes stops with the Rapid City Thrillers (1988-89), La Crosse Catbirds (1989-94) and Sioux Falls Skyforce (1994-95). Saunders also served as the general manager of the Catbirds from 1991-93.

Saunders’ coaching career also includes stops at Golden Valley Lutheran College, the University of Minnesota and the University of Tulsa. Saunders was an All-America basketball player at Cuyahoga Heights High School in Cleveland. He continued his basketball career at Minnesota, where he started in 101 of his 103 career games.

Here’s ESPN.com with a fun report about Rashad McCants and life as a “student-athlete” basketball star at UNC:

Rashad McCants says he barely studied at UNC and took bogus classes

Rashad McCants, the second-leading scorer on the North Carolina basketball team that won the 2004-05 national title, told ESPN’s “Outside the Lines” that tutors wrote his term papers, he rarely went to class for about half his time at UNC, and he remained able to play largely because he took bogus classes designed to keep athletes academically eligible.

McCants told “Outside the Lines” that he could have been academically ineligible to play during the championship season had he not been provided the assistance. Further, he said head basketball coach Roy Williams knew about the “paper-class” system at UNC. The so-called paper classes didn’t require students to go to class; rather, students were required to submit only one term paper to receive a grade.

McCants also told “Outside the Lines” that he even made the Dean’s List in Spring 2005 despite not attending any of his four classes for which he received straight-A grades. He said advisers and tutors who worked with the basketball program steered him to take the paper classes within the African-American Studies program.

McCants’ allegations mirror and amplify many of those first made public in 2011, when the Raleigh (N.C.) News & Observer began to report about widespread academic fraud at UNC. The scandal has centered on the African-American Studies classes that many athletes took in order to remain eligible. The newspaper reported in December 2012 that basketball players on the national championship team accounted for 15 enrollments in the classes. A UNC internal investigation found that 54 classes in the department of African and Afro-American Studies were either “aberrant” or “irregularly” taught from summer 2007 to summer 2011. That investigation only went back to 2007, according to the school’s review, because the two senior associate deans who conducted the probe were told by Karen Gil, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, to focus on that time frame.

Here’s the Oklahoman reporting on the Thunder, who finished the regular season with a 59-23 record, second best in the league behind the San Antonio Spurs. OKC wound up losing to those Spurs in the Western Conference Finals.

Thunder general manager Sam Presti says coach Scott Brooks is coming back

In his first public comments since the conclusion of the Thunder’s season, Sam Presti on Thursday ended all speculation surrounding Scott Brooks.

The general manager said the coach is coming back.

“Scotty, I think, did an excellent job,” Presti said at his annual season-ending news conference. “I understand we all have a tendency to look at the last game or the last series. I respect that. That’s part of sports. I can’t do that. I’m looking at a body of work. I’m looking at an understanding of what drives our success and the way in which we’ve gotten to this point.”

Brooks, Presti believes, is a big part of the reason.

The Thunder has won at least 61 percent of its games in each of Brooks’ five full seasons at the helm, and the team improved its winning percentage in five straight seasons before this year.

Here are video highlights of the top plays from Spurs vs Heat NBA Finals Game 1. Played in San Antonio Thursday night, the Spurs won, 110-95

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