Archive for July 28th, 2014

Lakers re-sign Wesley Johnson

Lakers re-sign Wesley Johnson

The Los Angeles Lakers have re-signed free agent forward Wesley Johnson, it was announced today by General Manager Mitch Kupchak.

“I’m happy to welcome Wesley back to our team and am excited to see him develop further after taking such great strides last season,” said Kupchak. “Wesley possesses elite athleticism, and has the potential to develop into an excellent defender.”

A four-year NBA veteran, Johnson had his best professional season last year with the Lakers, averaging career-highs in points per game (9.1), rebounds (4.4), steals (1.1), blocks (1.0), field goal percentage (.425) and three-point field goal percentage (.369) while appearing in a team-high 79 games. Johnson also set numerous single-game career marks in 2013-14, including rebounds (15, vs. MEM 4/13), steals (five, three times), blocks (five, at DEN 11/13) and three-pointers (six, two times).

Originally selected by the Minnesota Timberwolves with the fourth overall pick in the 2010 NBA Draft, Johnson has appeared in 273 career games (210 starts), averaging 8.1 points, 3.3 rebounds and 1.3 assists in 24.7 minutes per game as a member of the Minnesota Timberwolves (2010-2012), Phoenix Suns (2012-13) and Lakers (2013-14).

Johnson spent his first two collegiate seasons at Iowa State (2006-08) before transferring to Syracuse, where he helped the Orange to a 30-5 record in 2009-10 and was named a First Team All-American.  The 6-7 forward averaged 16.5 points, 8.5 rebounds and 2.2 assists in his lone season at Syracuse, and was named Big East Player of the Year and a finalist for the Naismith, John Wooden and Oscar Robertson national player of the year awards.

Lakers officially name Byron Scott head coach

The Los Angeles Lakers have signed Byron Scott to a multi-year contract as head coach, it was announced today by General Manager Mitch Kupchak.

“After an extensive and thorough search, we’re proud to welcome Byron back to the Lakers family as our next head coach,” said Kupchak. “Byron has proven himself at the highest levels of the game as both a player and a coach in his almost 30 years of NBA experience. His leadership skills and track record for success make him the ideal person to lead this franchise forward.”

“I am ecstatic to once again be a Laker and to have the opportunity to work alongside Mitch and the Buss family,” said Scott. “I know firsthand what it takes to bring a championship to this city, and as someone who both grew up in L.A. and played the majority of my career here, I know how passionate and dedicated our fans are. I will give everything I have to fulfill the championship expectations that our supporters have for us, and that we have for ourselves.”

The Inglewood, CA native becomes the 25th head coach in franchise history and 21st in the Los Angeles era, after previously amassing 416 wins over 13 seasons as head coach with the New Jersey Nets (2000-2004), New Orleans/Oklahoma City Hornets (2004-2009) and Cleveland Cavaliers (2010-2013). Scott began his coaching career as an assistant with the Sacramento Kings for two seasons beginning in 1998.

The 2007-2008 NBA Coach of the Year has led his teams to the postseason four times, including back-to-back NBA Finals appearances with New Jersey in 2002 and 2003. Scott has also served as an NBA All-Star Game head coach on two occasions: 2002 (Eastern Conference) and 2008 (Western Conference).

Among his other coaching achievements, Scott was at the helm for the best season in franchise history of two teams: the 2007-08 Hornets who went 56-26 (.683) and the 2001-02 Eastern Conference Champion Nets who went 52-30 (.634). The ’07-’08 campaign was a 17-win improvement from the previous season in New Orleans, and resulted in an appearance in the Western Conference Semifinals. Scott also saw marked success in his second season with the Hornets during the 2005-06 season, leading the team to a 20-win improvement (the NBA’s best that year) from his first season, despite Hurricane Katrina displacing the team from New Orleans and playing in four different home arenas throughout the season. Scott had a similar impact in his first head coaching stop, improving the Nets by 26 wins between his first and second seasons, marking the sixth-largest improvement in NBA history.

Most recently, Scott was an on-air talent for a variety of Time Warner Cable SportsNet’s studio programming last season, his only full season away from the game as a coach or player since he entered the NBA in 1983.

The 53-year-old Scott enjoyed a 14-year NBA career, 11 of which were spent in purple-and-gold (1983-93 and the 1996-97 season) with stints in Indiana (1993-95) and Vancouver (1995-96) in between. He was a starter on three Lakers championship teams (1985, 1987 and 1988) and made the postseason in all but one of his NBA campaigns, totaling 183 games of playoff experience. One of the marquee shooting guards of his time, starring on the Showtime Lakers, Scott concluded his 1,073-game NBA career with averages of 14.1 points, 2.8 rebounds and 2.5 assists per game, highlighted by his 1987-88 season where he achieved career-high per game averages of 21.7 points, 4.1 rebounds and 4.1 assists.

The Morningside High School alumnus originally became a Laker on October 16, 1983 when the San Diego Clippers (who had drafted him with the 4th overall pick of the 1983 NBA Draft four months earlier) traded him along with Swen Nater to L.A. in exchange for Eddie Jordan, Norm Nixon and a second round pick. The Arizona State product saw his NBA playing career come full-circle after signing as a free agent prior to the 1996-97 season (his last in the league) when the 35-year-old shooting guard mentored an 18-year-old rookie Kobe Bryant.

Joakim Noah should OK for training camp

Here’s ESPN Chicago reporting good news for the Bulls:

Chicago Bulls center Joakim Noah says he will be “ready” for training camp as he continues rehabbing from arthroscopic left knee surgery.

“I feel pretty good,” Noah told ESPNChicago.com on Sunday during a promotional event for Adidas. “Obviously I have a ways to go, but I’m excited. When I see what our team looks like, I think that Gar [Forman] and Pax [John Paxon] put together a very solid team and I’m really excited about next year.”

Noah was hobbled throughout the postseason after a season in which he earned the NBA’s Defensive Player of the Year award. The knee injury came at the end of a long season in which he was also voted to the first team All-NBA squad at center. Noah spent some time Sunday being part of a few laid back 3-on-3 games set up by the sneaker company as part of the launch of its “boost” campaign.

Enjoy these video highlights of Milwaukee Bucks rookie Jabari Parker from 2014 summer league:

Derrick Rose ready for USA Basketball

Remember Bulls guard Derrick Rose? He was awesome for a while, and won league MVP at a young age. And then has mostly been injured. But is set to return, on the international stage this offseason. The Chicago Tribune reports:

Derrick Rose ready for USA Basketball

Everyone associated with Derrick Rose’s second straight serious knee rehabilitation has said the process has gone smoothly.

Now, it’s finally time to publicly see the results.

Rose on Monday will be one of 19 players at USA Basketball’s five-day minicamp in Las Vegas. The week begins the process that will include a three-day August stint in Chicago and culminate with a 12-man roster traveling to Spain for the FIBA Basketball World Cup from late August to mid-September.

Rose hasn’t answered questions about his basketball performance since scoring 19 points in 33 minutes during a Bulls’ loss at Denver last Nov. 21.

Here’s the South Florida Sun Sentinel reporting:

LeBron James is finished with the Miami Heat. He’s also finished with the No. 6 he has worn during the past four NBA Finals and to celebrate his only two NBA championships.

As had been expected, James has elected to return this coming season to the No. 23 he wore during his initial tenure with the Cleveland Cavaliers. James never wore No. 6 with the Cavaliers.

James made the announcement Sunday on Twitter, when he posted:

“23 it is! It’s only right I go back. 2·3=6 We still family 6.”

He also posted an Instagram collage of his career in No. 23, including a picture of his uniform in high school at St. Vincent-St. Mary. Accompanying those photos were hash tags that read: “#HomeTeam #StriveForGreatness.”

Most NBA teams have set aside No. 23 in honor of Michael Jordan, with the Heat having gone as far as to place Jordan’s No. 23 jersey in the rafters at AmericanAirlines Arena. The last Heat player to have worn No. 23 was Cedric Ceballos in 2001. Jordan’s No. 23 was formally retired by the Heat on April 11, 2003, at the request of Heat President Pat Riley.

Here’s the Salt Lake Tribune reporting on upcoming international summer bball:

Summer league is over. Training camp is still two months away. So, naturally, it’s time for basketball.

Basketball’s World Cup starts late next month in Spain, and a few members of the Utah Jazz are hoping to make their presence known on the global stage.

Dante Exum (and Jazz summer leaguer Brock Motum) have returned to Australia to prepare for the tournament. Center Rudy Gobert is back home in France.

And Utah’s new max-man, Gordon Hayward, will begin his quest to earn a spot on the United States’ 12-man roster starting Monday, when Team USA begins it’s camp in Las Vegas.

Exum, the Jazz’s first-round pick in last month’s draft, figures to have the most prominent role among his teammates. With point guard Patty Mills injured, the 19-year-old Exum should get heavy minutes in the Australia backcourt.

Here’s the Atlanta Journal-Constitution blog with an update on the Hawks and Team USA:

Team USA adds Paul Millsap to training camp roster

Paul Millsap has a new summer job.

The Hawks All-Star forward was added to the 2014-16 U.S. Men’s Basketball Team roster Sunday. He will one of 19 NBA players who will participate in the first of three training camp sessions to be held Monday-Friday in Las Vegas. The team will also hold sessions in Chicago and New York later this summer. The camps will be used to decide the 12-man U.S. roster that will compete in the FIBA Basketball World Cup that will be held in Spain starting Aug. 30. The U.S. will try to secure an automatic berth in the 2016 Olympics.

“I’m very excited about being added to the USA Men’s National Team roster,” Millsap said in a statement released by the Hawks. “I look forward to practicing with and competing against some of the NBA’s best for the honor of representing our country in Spain.”

Millsap joins teammate Kyle Korver on the roster.

Thunder may upgrade offense this season

Here’s the Oklahoman reporting on the Thunder:

Roll call on the Thunder summer.

Drafted Mitch McGary. Tried to sign Pau Gasol. Did sign Anthony Morrow. Re-signed Grant Jerrett.

Let’s see. A rookie with all kinds of offensive talent but probably not ready for NBA defensive assignments. A former superstar who isn’t the player he used to be but still has a great set of ball skills. The NBA’s second-best shooter, behind only Steph Curry. And a big man whose only discernible ability, albeit it strong, is deep shooting.

The trend is clear. The Thunder’s priority is to upgrade its offense. And the statistical trend says that’s smart.

The Thunder ranked second in NBA offense (points per possession) in both 2011-12 and 2012-13 but slipped to seventh last season. Points per possession is the best way to gauge an offense (or defense), and the Thunder slipped to 1.081 points per possession last season, after averaging 1.102 the year before.

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