Archive for May, 2015

Donatas Motiejunas expects to be healthy by training camp

Here’s the Houston Chronicle with an update on Rockets forward Donatas Motiejunas:

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The first week of the postseason, Rockets forward Donatas Motiejunas watched his team play as he laid in a bed, unable to get around after having back surgery.

As the Rockets continued to play through the playoffs – beating the Mavericks in the first round, then spurring an historic comeback against the Clippers in the semifinals and eventually falling to the Warriors in the Western Conference Finals, Motiejunas watched from the sidelines, wishing he could be on the floor with them.

Just before the Rockets made the best playoff run they’ve had in recent history, Motiejunas had lumbar microdisectomy surgery, ending his season.

Motiejunas is slowly recovering and said he will be cleared to play by the time training camp starts in the fall. And the forward, who started 62 games for the Rockets this season, can’t wait to be back on the court. “I will just keep working to get better and be better,” Motiejunas said. “No question about it. I will be ready for training camp.”

Fred Hoiberg may become next Bulls coach

Fred Hoiberg may become next Bulls coach

The Chicago Bulls need a new coach now that they’ve decided that Tom Thibodeau, despite his success, isn’t the man for the job. Here’s the New York Daily News reporting on Saturday that Fred Hoiberg is expected to land the position:

Fred Hoiberg may become next Bulls coach

While the Chicago Bulls were going to great lengths on Thursday to tell everyone that they are the model franchise when it comes to trust, they apparently forgot to mention cutting backroom deals behind Tom Thibodeau’s back.

According to a source, Iowa State’s Fred Hoiberg already has a deal in place to become the Bulls’ next head coach. The parameters of the deal were discussed while Thibodeau was still employed by the Bulls.

Hoiberg’s deal is believed to be in the $25 million range over five years. Hoiberg, who recently needed a second heart surgery, is merely waiting to be cleared by doctors before officially accepting the job.

For now, Kevin Love expects to be with Cavs next season

For now, Kevin Love expects to be with Cavs next season

Love can opt out of the one year remaining on his contract by June 30 and either negotiate for a new deal with the Cavs or test the market as an unrestricted free agent. And has been the case all season, the three-time All-Star, whose future has been the subject of speculation almost since the day he was traded to the Cavaliers, indicated he has no plans to leave.

“I expect to be suiting up by Game 1 of next year,” he said.

For the Cavs?

“Yes, sir,” he said.

Noticeably thinner after losing 15 pounds during his recovery, Love said not being on the floor with his teammates has been emotionally difficult. After six seasons in Minnesota, he was finally in the playoffs and appearing to hit his stride after a season in which his role transformed, when Olynyk’s aggressive play ended Love’s season in Game 4.

– Associated Press

Chris Gatling arrested, suspected of running credit card scam

Here’s the Los Angeles Times reporting on some suspected shady activity:

Chris Gatling arrested, suspected of running credit card scam

Former NBA player Chris Gatling was arrested in Arizona on Thursday on suspicion of running a nationwide online scam.

Scottsdale, Ariz., police confirmed the arrest to the Associated Press and said Gatling was released a short time after he was booked. Gatling, who last played in the NBA in 2002, faces charges of fraud, aggravated identity theft and forgery.

Police allege Gatling was operating a scheme that involved multiple online businesses being used to gather credit card numbers. Gatling then allegedly ran the numbers through other businesses for services never authorized by the cardholders. Police claim the operation was being run out of a Scottsdale call center, and it included stolen credit card numbers from people across the U.S.

Klay Thompson diagnosed with concussion

Klay Thompson suffers concussion, exact return date unknown

Klay Thompson diagnosed with concussion

Following extensive examinations over the last two days – including neurological tests earlier this morning – Warriors’ guard Klay Thompson has been diagnosed with a concussion. He will not return to the court until he is symptom-free and cleared under the NBA’s concussion protocol guidelines. He will be evaluated daily and there is no timetable for his return.

With the NBA Draft around one month away, teams are conducting pre-draft workouts as they evaluate who to select. Here’s the Philadelphia Inquirer blog reporting:

Former Delaware State post player Kendall Gray and former Arizona point guard T.J. McConnell are working out for the 76ers on Friday.

Gray and Alan Williams of UC Santa Barbara were the NCAA Division I rebounding co-leaders (11.8 per game) in the NCAA Division I. The 6-foot-9, 240-pound Gray also averaged 11.7 points, 2.8 blocks and 1 assist en route to being named the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference player of the year.

Bulls fire coach Tom Thibodeau

Chicago Bulls fire successful coach Tom Thibodeau

Bulls fire coach Tom Thibodeau

Chicago Bulls General Manager Gar Forman announced today that Tom Thibodeau will not be retained as the team’s head coach.

Chicago Bulls Chairman Jerry Reinsdorf said, “The Chicago Bulls have a history of achieving great success on and off the court. These accomplishments have been possible because of an organizational culture where input from all parts of the organization has been welcomed and valued, there has been a willingness to participate in a free flow of information, and there have been clear and consistent goals. While the head of each department of the organization must be free to make final decisions regarding his department, there must be free and open interdepartmental discussion and consideration of everyone’s ideas and opinions. These internal discussions must not be considered an invasion of turf, and must remain private. Teams that consistently perform at the highest levels are able to come together and be unified across the organization-staff, players, coaches, management and ownership. When everyone is on the same page, trust develops and teams can grow and succeed together. Unfortunately, there has been a departure from this culture. To ensure that the Chicago Bulls can continue to grow and succeed, we have decided that a change in the head coaching position is required. Days like today are difficult, but necessary for us to achieve our goals and fulfill our commitments to our fans. I appreciate the contributions that Tom Thibodeau made to the Bulls organization. I have always respected his love of the game and wish him well in the future.”

According to the Chicago Sun-Times, “Tom Thibodeau is a great coach. He is a better coach than John Paxson is a vice president of basketball operations and Gar Forman is a general manager. That’s not taking anything away from the two front-office people. It’s a recognition that the Bulls are letting go of one of the best pure basketball minds in the NBA. The shame of Thursday’s firing is that it didn’t have to happen, not if clear-thinking, adult-acting adults had been involved. But a clash of personalities and visions made what happened inevitable. Thibodeau does not play well with others. He knows what he knows, and he’ll go to his grave defending it. And what he knows is hard work, followed up by more hard work, followed by an aperitif of hard work. So when Paxson and Forman told him again and again to take his foot off the gas pedal with the players by cutting down on minutes and thus on wear and tear, it was like talking to basketball stanchion.”

Following 21 years in the NBA as an assistant coach (he was an advance scout in 1991-92), Chicago named Thibodeau the team’s head coach on June 23, 2010. During his five seasons at the helm of the Bulls, Thibodeau’s teams compiled an overall record of 255-139 (.647). The Bulls advanced to the playoffs five times during Thibodeau’s tenure, where he posted a postseason record of 23-28 (.451).

“When Tom was hired in 2010, he was right for our team and system at that time, and over the last five years we have had some success with Tom as our head coach,” said Chicago Bulls General Manager Gar Forman. “But as we looked ahead and evaluated how we as a team and an organization could continue to grow and improve, we believed a change in approach was needed.”

Wednesday night in Oakland, the Golden State Warriors beat the Houston Rockets, clinching the series in five games. The Warriors will face the Cleveland Cavaliers in the 2015 NBA Finals. Enjoy these video highlights from the Warriors’ win:




The AP reports: After a generation of wishing and waiting, the Golden State Warriors have finally arrived on basketball’s biggest stage again. Stephen Curry had 26 points and eight rebounds, Harrison Barnes added 24 points and the Warriors advanced to the NBA Finals for the first time in 40 years with a 104-90 victory over the Houston Rockets on Wednesday night… The Warriors shook off a slow start and sweated out a shaky finish in Game 5 to close out the Rockets and set up a matchup with LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers beginning June 4… Dwight Howard led Houston with 18 points and 16 rebounds. But MVP runner-up James Harden had a forgettable finale, with a playoff-record 13 turnovers and 14 points on 2-of-11 shooting.

The AP reports: Things got tougher on Curry and the Warriors when backcourt mate Klay Thompson faked a shot that drew Trevor Ariza in the air early in the fourth quarter. Thompson absorbed Ariza’s knee to the side of his head, sending him to the floor. Thompson, who finished with 20 points, lay on the ground for a minute before walking to the locker room. He came back to the bench after receiving stitches on his right ear.

AFP reports: Forward Harrison Barnes played a key role, helping Golden State break open a close contest with four straight baskets to cap an 11-2 scoring run that turned a six-point lead into an 87-72 Warriors advantage with 7:07 left to play. Barnes scored nine straight points on a jump shot, a three-pointer, a running basket and a dunk.

AFP reports: The Warriors defense harried Rockets star guard James Harden into a dismal two-for-11 shooting performance. He missed all three of his three-point attempts and finished with an NBA playoff record 13 turnovers.

AFP reports: Dwight Howard led Houston with 18 points and 16 rebounds, but the Rockets shot just 35.1 percent from the field.

Reuters reports: The Rockets had won Game Four of the series on Monday to avoid being swept, but were outscored 35-24 in the second quarter on Wednesday and played catch up the rest of the way.

Magic may hire Scott Skiles as coach

Magic may hire Scott Skiles as coach

Here’s the Orlando Sentinel reporting on the Magic, who are in need of a new head coach:

Magic may hire Scott Skiles as coach

If Skiles has maintained that kind of magnetic pull with longtime fans, well, great. Mostly, they should just hope his legendary toughness, intensity and basketball I.Q. as a gritty, sawed-off point guard can be passed down to his next-generation players.

Skiles isn’t big on reliving the old days, anyway. He and the Magic realize this mission is about the present, not the past, on both their parts.

The Magic’s front office believes it has enough talent now to close in on a playoff berth — even if a 25-57 record last season offered little proof — and it expects Skiles to get them there, ASAP.

But eventually he can only take them as far as the personnel allows, meaning GM Rob Hennigan must find Skiles a star or two through trades and/or free agency.

In Year 4 of the Dwight Howard rebuild, the Magic are looking for their coach to make a difference. They’ll replace test pilots Jacque Vaughn and James Borrego with an entirely different bench boss: a no-nonsense, no-excuse veteran who has the license to demand more from players.

Will Jeff Van Gundy return to coaching?

For now, there’s no reason to actually expect a Jeff Van Gundy NBA coaching return. But it seems like a possibility. Here’s the New Orleans Times-Picayune reporting:

Will Jeff Van Gundy return to coaching?

Jeff Van Gundy declined to acknowledge on the “Dan Patrick Show” on Wednesday if he has been contacted by the New Orleans Pelicans for their vacant head-coaching job.

But Van Gundy didn’t make a point to publicly deny his interest in replacing Monty Williams and coaching superstar forward Anthony Davis.

When asked on the show if he would like to coach Davis, Van Gundy said: ”There is no one who ever coached that wouldn’t want to coach a great player with great character. And so I’ve been able to do that in my life. I’ve already coached a player with a great character and you know how important that is if you want to win big in a situation. I had Patrick Ewing, Yao Ming and (Tracy) McGrady in Houston, (Charles) Oakley and all these guys.

”Anybody who that says, nah … I wouldn’t want to coach (Davis) who is a top-five player and a great person, I wouldn’t believe that if someone said that.”

Message from Atlanta Hawks to their fans

Message from Atlanta Hawks to their fans

Here’s what the Atlanta Hawks have to say about their own season and playoff run, which ended last night in a 4-0 sweep at the hands of the Cleveland Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference Finals:

We had the largest increase in attendance in the NBA and sold out Philips Arena 32 of the last 35 games.

We won a franchise-best 60 games, captured the Division Championship for the first time in 21 years and advanced to the Eastern Conference Finals for the first time in Atlanta history.

We had four players named to the Eastern Conference All-Star team - the most ever in club history.

We witnessed Mike Budenholzer named NBA Coach of the Year in just his second season at the helm.

We finished the month of January with a perfect 17-0 record, the most wins in an undefeated month in NBA history, earning our entire starting five the Eastern Conference Player of the Month honors.

We achieved record broadcast ratings on both television and radio, including the top 5 most-watched Hawks basketball games in club history.

We created an awe-inspiring and imposing home court environment, with an Eastern Conference-best 35-6 record at home.

We honored our greatest legacy, Dominique Wilkins, and erected a permanent statue to greet fans and players each time they enter the arena to celebrate his many accomplishments and contributions to our franchise.

And now, free agency for Paul Millsap

And now, free agency for Atlanta Hawks forward Paul Millsap

Power forward Paul Millsap was a huge part of the Atlanta Hawks’ success this season. Will he and the club part ways? Here’s the Atlanta Journal Constitution reporting:

The next stop for Paul Millsap is free agency.

The two-time All-Star, both in his seasons the Hawks, is an unrestricted free agent this summer. The Hawks would like to re-sign the power forward – along with several other teams.

The sting of a four-game sweep in the Eastern Conference finals was still fresh minutes after the Hawks 118-88 Game 4 loss to the Cavaliers Tuesday night when Millsap was asked about his future.

“I think looking at different options, looking at this team, looking at what we’ve built thus far, in weight my options I can’t make a decision right now,” Millsap said.

Miami Heat lineup analysis

Miami Heat lineup analysis

The Miami Heat, who played roughly half the season without star Chris Bosh, finished with a 37-45 record, failing to qualify for the NBA playoffs. Here’s the Palm Beach Post with a look at some of their lineups:

The lineup everyone wanted to see heading into last season (Norris Cole, Dwyane Wade, Luol Deng, Josh McRoberts and Chris Bosh) was on the court a total of 34 minutes over four games. That group had a plus-26.1 efficiency rating (points scored per 100 possessions minus points allowed per 100 possessions).

The lineup everyone wanted to see in February and going into next season (Goran Dragic, Wade, Deng, Bosh and Hassan Whiteside) played zero minutes together. Bosh exited due to blood clots in his lungs just as Dragic arrived in the trade.

The most prevalent lineup was Dragic, Wade, Deng, Udonis Haslem and Whiteside. That group worked together for 179 minutes. For context, Golden State’s primary unit logged 813 minutes, and the Warriors had two other groups play at least 180 minutes.

Cavs sweep Hawks, reach 2015 NBA Finals

Cavs sweep Hawks, reach 2015 NBA Finals

The AP reports: The championship LeBron James craves more than any other, the one he came back home to get, is within reach. The Cavaliers are in the NBA Finals. James scored 23 points, Kyrie Irving provided a boost after missing two games and Cleveland reserved a spot in the finals with a 118-88 victory over the Atlanta Hawks on Tuesday night to win the Eastern Conference title. By sweeping the top-seeded Hawks, the Cavs earned their second trip to the finals, where they will face either Golden State or Houston starting June 4.

The AP reports: It will be the fifth straight visit to the league’s showcase event for the inimitable James, who returned to Cleveland after four years in Miami to try and end this city’s championship drought dating to 1964. The Cavs are four wins from doing it, and if they can, James will have a title that would put him in a class by himself. Other players have won more championships, but none has ever done it for his ring-starved home region.

The AP reports: Jeff Teague scored 17 and Paul Millsap 16 for Atlanta, which won a team-record 60 games during the regular season and made the conference finals for the first time since 1970. But the Hawks were no match for the Cavaliers and had no answer for James, who nearly averaged a triple-double in the four games.

Reuters reports: In addition to his 23 points, James also made nine rebounds and had seven assists on Tuesday, doing most of his scoring in the first half as Cleveland opened up a commanding 59-42 by halftime. The Cavs were bolstered by the return of point guard Kyrie Irving, who had missed the last two games with a knee injury. Irving played 22 minutes and scored 16 points.

AFP reports: Cleveland will face either the Golden State Warriors or the Houston Rockets in the championship showdown. Golden State leads that series 3-1.

The Cleveland Cavaliers beat the Atlanta Hawks Tuesday, sweeping them and reaching the NBA Finals. During the Cavs postgame press conference, J.R. Smith snapped an Instagram selfie with LeBron James and Tristan Thompson. Enjoy!

Rockets win Game 4 vs Warriors

Rockets win Game 4 vs Warriors

When Golden State’s Stephen Curry crashed into Trevor Ariza’s shoulder, was upended and sent flying toward the court on Monday night against Houston, it felt like forever before he landed.

”That was the worst (fall ever) because you’re in the air for a long time,” Curry said. ”And not knowing how you’re going to hit the floor, knowing that it’s going to happen, it’s inevitable, but you’re up there just trying to brace yourself.”

The MVP was able to return to Game 4 of the Western Conference finals after the spill but the Warriors couldn’t overcome a big deficit, as James Harden scored 45 points in the Rockets’ 128-115 victory.

– Associated Press

While the Rockets prevented a sweep, no team in NBA history has recovered from a 3-0 deficit to win a playoff series.

“We’re a really good team when we are moving the ball and working together,” Harden said. “We’ve got to do a better job of being consistent.”

Harden made 13-of-22 shots from the floor, including 7-of-11 from 3-point range, and added nine rebounds and five assists.

– AFP

Harden also pulled down nine rebounds, while center Dwight Howard notched 14 points and 12 boards as the Rockets ensured they would live to fight another day, pulling back to 3-1 down in the best-of-seven series.

Curry finished with 23 points, while guard Klay Thompson led the Warriors with 24.

Golden State, who will have their next chance to close out the series back in Oakland on Wednesday, have not been to the NBA finals since 1975.

– Reuters

Incident with Matthew Dellavedova leads to Al Horford ejection

Here’s the Akron Beacon Journal reporting on a key sequence from Sunday’s Hawks-Cavs Eastern Conference Finals Game 3 in Cleveland, which the Cavaliers won in overtime to take a 3-9 series lead:

Incident with Matthew Dellavedova leads to Al Horford ejection

Matthew Dellavedova’s growing reputation as a dirty player — deserved or not — preceded him Sunday night.

And it seemed to play a part in another playoff entanglement, following his leg lock on the Chicago Bulls’ Taj Gibson in the conference semifinals and his collision with the Atlanta Hawks’ Kyle Korver on Friday that left Korver with a postseason-ending ankle sprain.

This time in a scramble for a rebound with 34.3 seconds left in the first half at Quicken Loans Arena, Cavs’ backup point guard Dellavedova tripped over the Hawks’ DeMarre Carroll and fell in a heap with Atlanta’s Al Horford. When he felt Dellavedova on his knees, Horford elbowed Dellavedova in the neck and shoulder area.

After a lengthy review, Horford received a flagrant-2 and an ejection and Dellavedova was called for a technical foul for what crew chief Ken Mauer called “a live ball physical taunt.”

The moment nearly stole the spotlight from a play-to-exhaustion triple-double from LeBron James as the Cavs edged the Hawks 114-111 in overtime in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference finals. The Cavs will attempt to sweep the visiting Hawks in Game 4 Tuesday night and earn a trip to the NBA Finals.

Tristan Thompson making big plays for Cavs

The Cavaliers lead the Hawks 3-0 in their Eastern Conference Finals playoff series. Here’s the Akron Beacon Journal reporting on one of the most important members of Cleveland’s postseason squad:

Tristan Thompson making big plays for Cavs

No one will read about double-digit rebounds regarding Tristan Thompson’s performance Sunday night at Quicken Loans Arena in Game 3 of the NBA Eastern Conference Finals, one the Cavs won in overtime 114-111. The Cavs now own a 3-0 lead in the series.

Though the numbers are respectable [10 points, seven rebounds], his contributions came down to two huge plays – one in regulation and a more significant one in the overtime.

Thompson, playing with five fouls since the 6:09 mark of the fourth quarter, worked as if he had no worries. In the overtime, he grabbed an offensive rebound with 36.9 seconds left on the clock and the Cavs trailing 111-109. He found a wide-open LeBron James in the left corner of the court and James connected on his only three-point shot of six attempts on the night.

“When I got that rebound I was hoping I didn’t get pushed out of bounds like the last one [just moments before], but I stayed in bound,” he said. “Got my balance and looked for the open teammate and that was LeBron.”

James Harden struggles in Game 3 loss to Warriors

The Houston Rockets got smoked at home by the Golden State Warriors last night. Here’s the Houston Chronicle reporting:

James Harden struggles in Game 3 loss to Warriors

Harden and the Rockets had their first off night of the Western Conference Finals on Saturday night. Instead of having a chance to be their hero, Harden was on the bench for the entire fourth quarter watching his team fall to the Warriors 115-80 and fall to 0-3 in the series.

“They outworked us,” Harden said. “They played a lot better than us tonight. They played downhill all night and we never recovered.”

Harden was stellar in Games 1 and 2 in Oakland, averaging 33 points, shooting .585 from the field. He also averaged 10.5 rebounds, nine assists and 3.5 steals in the first two games.

On Saturday in Game 3, Harden had 17 points, shot .187 from the field, dished out three assists and had four rebounds.

After the first two games, guarding Harden was key for the Warriors.

“I mean, it’s hard to stop him,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. “He’s got an incredible pace to his game. He sees angles. He gets into the cracks of the defense and there’s little subtle things you do that he may exploit, he may not. I thought we did a better job taking away some of the angles that he was attacking on us in the first couple games.”

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