Archive for June 24th, 2014

Utah Jazz hire five assistant coaches

The Utah Jazz today announced the five members of Head Coach Quin Snyder’s staff, naming Brad Jones, Antonio Lang, Alex Jensen, Mike Wells and Johnnie Bryant as assistant coaches.

“We have assembled a talented group of coaches with a track record of winning and successful player development,” said Jazz Head Coach Quin Snyder. “They are high-character individuals with a diversity of experience ranging from playing professionally to coaching in the NBA, D-League, collegiately and overseas, and will be invaluable in building a strong foundation for this team.”

Jones returns for his third season on the Jazz staff since re-joining the organization in 2012. Prior to that, Jones spent two seasons as head coach of the San Antonio Spurs-owned Austin Toros of the NBA Development League from 2010-12, leading the Toros to the 2012 D-League title. From 2007-10 Jones served as the original head coach of the D-League’s Utah Flash (now the Delaware 87ers), earning two playoff berths and a spot in the 2009 D-League Finals. During his five-year D-League coaching career (139-111, .556), Jones had eight different players under his tutelage who were called-up to the NBA a total of 13 times, and also had 12 different NBA players assigned by their respective teams to work with him on a total of 14 D-League assignments.

Previously, Jones worked as a regional scout for the Jazz for six years (2001-07). Jones also served as the head coach at his alma mater, Lambuth University, from 1995-2001. During his tenure there, he was twice named the Mid-South Conference Coach of the Year and led the school to a pair of conference championships.

Lang arrives in Utah with an array of domestic and international experience as both a player and coach, having most recently served as head coach in Japan’s National Basketball League (NBL). Lang coached the Mitsubishi Diamond Dolphins there for the last four seasons, guiding them to the 2014 playoffs. Previously he served as an assistant coach with Mitsubishi from 2006-10.

A member of the winningest graduating class in NCAA history, Lang played four seasons for Mike Krzyzewski at Duke University from 1990-94, appearing in three Final Fours and winning back-to-back national championships in 1991 and 1992. Lang was then selected by the Phoenix Suns with the 29th overall pick of the 1994 NBA Draft, and enjoyed a six-year NBA career with Phoenix, Cleveland, Miami, Toronto and Philadelphia. He also played professionally in the American Basketball Association (ABA), Continental Basketball Association (CBA), International Basketball League (IBL) as well as time overseas in the Philippines and Japan.

Jensen is entering his second season as a member of the Jazz coaching staff. Before joining the Jazz, Jensen spent two seasons (57-43, .557) as the first-ever head coach of the Canton Charge of the D-League from 2011-13, advancing the Cleveland Cavaliers-owned team to the playoffs in both seasons. He was named the 2013 Dennis Johnson NBA D-League Coach of the Year after leading the Charge to a franchise-best 30 victories and an East Division title. Jensen then coached the D-League Select Team in the 2013 NBA Summer League in Las Vegas, leading his squad to a 4-1 record against NBA team entries and advancing them to the quarterfinals of the inaugural summer league tournament. Jensen began his coaching career as an assistant under Rick Majerus at Saint Louis University from 2007-11.

A native of Bountiful, Utah, Jensen attended Viewmont High School there, leading the Vikings to a state basketball title as a junior and was named Utah’s Mr. Basketball in 1994. Jensen played four seasons at the University of Utah (1994-95, 1997-00) under Majerus and helped the Utes to the NCAA Championship game in 1998. Following his collegiate career, Jensen played seven professional seasons in Turkey and one season with the Yakima Sun Kings of the CBA. While playing in Europe, Jensen was named All-FIBA Europe Cup Defender of the Year in 2004, along with being named to the All-FIBA Europe Cup First Team.

Wells joins the Jazz organization with an extensive basketball career that spans 20 seasons at both the collegiate and professional levels, and includes time on the staffs of two NBA championship teams (1995 Houston Rockets and 2007 San Antonio Spurs). Wells was most recently working at Toledo University, after having spent last season as an assistant coach at South Florida and the two previous years in the same role at George Mason (2011-13).

Before returning to collegiate-level coaching, Wells spent 17 seasons in the NBA and had the opportunity to work with some of the league’s best coaches – Rudy Tomjanovich with the Houston Rockets (1995-2003) and Los Angeles Lakers (2004-05), Jeff Van Gundy in Houston (2003-04), Gregg Popovich with the San Antonio Spurs (2005-09) and Flip Saunders with the Washington Wizards (2009-11). Wells’ NBA career began in 1995 with the eventual NBA Champion Houston Rockets (1995-2004) where he worked his way up from assistant video coordinator to assistant coach. In addition, he also worked as the head scout for the USA Basketball Men’s National Team from 1998-2003, including the gold-medal winning team at the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney, Australia.

Bryant begins his third season with the Jazz since being hired in the summer of 2012. Prior to joining the Jazz, Bryant operated Bryant Sports Academy, an intense and unique skill development program through which he has worked extensively with more than 125 athletes of various age groups to advance each player’s skill set through personalized workout sessions. Among the athletes he has worked with are numerous professional European players and several NBA players.

Bryant is a former standout guard at the University of Utah where he played three seasons (2005-08) and finished his career as the school’s all-time leader in three-point percentage (.455) and ranked 20th on the Utes’ all-time scoring list. He was named to the All-Mountain West Conference Second Team in 2008 and received the Jack Gardner team MVP award for the 2007-08 season. He also set the single-game three-point record (8), and finished his career fifth all-time in the Mountain West Conference in three-point field goal percentage (.490) in conference games. Bryant then played one professional season in Germany with Telemotive Muenchen.

Pat Riley statement on LeBron James entering free agency

The following statement was released today from Pat Riley of the Miami Heat:

“I was informed this morning of his intentions. We fully expected LeBron to opt-out and exercise his free agent rights, so this does not come as a surprise. As I said at the press conference last week, players have a right to free agency and when they have these opportunities, the right to explore their options. The last four seasons have been historic and LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh and Erik Spoelstra have led the Miami HEAT to one of the most unprecedented runs in the history of the NBA. We look forward to sitting down with LeBron and his representatives and talking about our future together. At the moment, we are preparing for the opportunities in the Draft and Free Agency as we continue with our goal of winning NBA Championships.”

Here’s the Sacramento Bee with an important update on the Kings:

Rudy Gay staying with Kings for 2014-15 season

The Kings’ courtship of Rudy Gay did not begin with a meeting in Sacramento earlier this month.

It began in December, when the Kings traded for Gay in a seven-player deal with Toronto and knew he could become a free agent after the 2013-14 season.

The Kings’ effort paid off Sunday, when Gay informed the team he would opt in for the final year of his contract, worth $19.3 million, for next season, league sources confirmed. The sources spoke on the condition of anonymity because the deal had not been finalized.

Gay had until June 30 to decide whether to return to the Kings or become a free agent. With Gay on board for next season, the team will look to negotiate a contract extension this summer.

LeBron James to become free agent

What would you do if you were LeBron James? Continue on with your Heat contract, hope that Dwyane Wade’s knees hold up, and hope the team adds a better bench? Opt out, test free agency, but perhaps wind up staying with the Heat? Or leave South Beach (well, Miami) and take your talents elsewhere? Here’s ESPN.com with news on this situation:

LeBron James’ agent, Richie Paul, has informed the Miami Heat that James will exercise his early termination option and become an unrestricted free agent on July 1.

Opting out does not mean James has decided to leave the Heat, a person familiar with the situation told The Associated Press, who spoke on condition of anonymity because neither the four-time NBA MVP nor the team had made any public announcement.

James had until June 30 to decide whether to opt out of the final two years of his contract with the Heat. He was scheduled to make $20 million next season.

Here’s ESPN.com reporting on the Lakers, who have many needs, one of which is a new head coach:

Lakers interested in Byron Scott for coaching job

While the Lakers remain focused on Thursday’s draft and the start of free agency July 1, sources tell ESPN.com that former Lakers star Byron Scott has emerged as the leading candidate for the head-coaching job after impressing in three interviews with the team.

Talks with the former Nets and Cavaliers coach have not progressed to the contract stage, as the Lakers continue to weigh whether to hold off on hiring a coach before they make their pitches to free agents.

Carmelo Anthony free agency roundup

Here’s ESPN.com reporting on Carmelo Anthony free agency:

Carmelo Anthony free agency roundup

Carmelo Anthony has yet to publicly reveal the process by which he plans to entertain other teams in free agency now that he has opted out of his contract with the New York Knicks, but the Chicago Bulls, Houston Rockets, Dallas Mavericks and Los Angeles Lakers are among the teams that expect to have the opportunity to make their pitch to him starting July 1, according to sources close to the situation.

Teams can’t formally contact free agents until 12:01 a.m. ET July 1, but sources told ESPN.com that the Atlanta Hawks and Miami Heat are two more teams that could join the race for Anthony, depending on how things play out before, during and after Thursday’s NBA draft.

The Bulls are widely regarded as the early favorite to steal Anthony from the Knicks, with sources saying Monday that Chicago has been quietly planning for this free-agent pursuit for months, going back to the January trade of Luol Deng to Cleveland. Sources say every move Chicago made during the season’s second half — including the seemingly minor signings of veterans Ronnie Brewer, Lou Amundson and Mike James to very tradeable contracts — was made with the hope they might be helpful in a potential sign-and-trade with the Knicks for Anthony.

Sources say the Rockets, meanwhile, have begun working on trade exits for center Omer Asik and point guard Jeremy Lin to clear enough space under the salary cap to make a representative offer to Anthony. The Rockets have been confident for some time, sources say, that they can not only move both players if necessary in deals that create the requisite flexibility but also rival the Bulls’ sales pitch.

Kings open to trading No.8 draft pick

Here’s ESPN.com reporting on the Kings:

The Sacramento Kings are fielding offers from three teams for the No. 8 pick in Thursday’s NBA draft, sources with direct knowledge told ESPN on Monday.

Sources said the Kings have two deals that could be done prior to Thursday’s 2 p.m. ET trade deadline to change the draft order and one would be a draft night deal, depending on which players are available when the Kings select.

With a $2 billion sale of the Los Angeles Clippers hanging in the balance, a judge suggested Monday that the terms of a family trust are clear enough to remove Donald Sterling as a trustee and allow his estranged wife to sell the team without his consent.

At one point, Superior Court Judge Michael Levanas said the Sterlings’ trust agreement is so unambiguous that “I could decide this case in five minutes.”

At the center of the volatile court battle are reports from three doctors who examined the 80-year-old Sterling and found he shows symptoms of early Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. His lawyers argued he should be able to call his own experts at a trial set for July 7.

The judge said the trust agreement provides that if two doctors examined Sterling and found he lacked the capacity to manage his own affairs, he would be removed as a trustee. There is no provision to contest the decision, he said.

– AP

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