Archive for December, 2017

 

 

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The 76ers rebuilding process that took place over the last few seasons has finally materialized. With a 13-11 record, the Sixers are a solid team. Not great — that’s just the 9th best record in the Eastern conference — but solid, and the future should only be brighter. Especially when rookie guard Markelle Fultz eventually regains full health and can perhaps become a serious contributor.

For now, Fultz remains out. According to the Sixers, he is “no longer experiencing soreness in his right shoulder and the scapular muscle imbalance is resolved.”

He’s still undergoing physical therapy. Still healing. The team says they’ll issue another update on his shoulder and overall health in three weeks.

Hopefully, in three weeks we hear that he’s actually ready to play. And that the process won’t be extended.

There’s clearly no rush for Fultz to come back until he’s truly ready.

The Sixers have lost two games in a row. They play the Cavs in Cleveland tonight.

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The Memphis Grizzlies today hired Greg Buckner as an assistant coach on Grizzlies interim head coach J.B. Bickerstaff’s staff, General Manager Chris Wallace said today.

Buckner has five years of coaching experience with the Houston Rockets (2011-16), where he worked alongside Bickerstaff for two seasons as an assistant coach (2014-16). This after three seasons as a player development coach (2011-14).

Drafted in 1998 by the Dallas Mavericks in the second round (53rd overall), Buckner played in 570 career games (117 starts) and averaged 5.0 points, 2.0 rebounds and 1.3 assists.

Known as a defensive stopper, Buckner’s teams reach the playoffs in six of his 10 NBA seasons.

In 1998-99, he played for the Grand Rapids Hoops, a team in the Continental Basketball Association.

Playing college ball at Clemson University, Buckner was the first Tiger to ever lead his team in scoring in four straight years (1994-98). The teach reached the NCAA Tournament three times.

Bucker is in the Clemson Athletic Hall of Fame.

Hawks waive Nicolas Brussino

The Atlanta Hawks have requested waivers on guard/forward Nicolas Brussino, it was announced today.

Brussino has appeared in four games with the Hawks this season, and eight contests with the Erie BayHawks, Atlanta’s NBA G League affiliate. He was originally claimed off waivers by the Hawks on July 22, 2017.

Kawhi Leonard may be set to return

The Spurs have had an excellent season considering they’ve been without star small forward Kawhi Leonard. Good news: Leonard may finally be ready to return. Here’s the San Antonio Express News reporting:

Kawhi Leonard may be set to return

The wait for Kawhi Leonard’s return may finally be coming to an end. League sources tell the Express-News Leonard could make his season debut for the Spurs on Saturday against the Phoenix Suns barring any setbacks.

According to sources, Leonard participate in a final workout session Thursday. The team will re-evaluate Leonard on Friday. If all goes well, and Leonard feels OK, the two-time Defensive Player of the Year will travel with the team to Phoenix after Friday’s game against Boston to play in the second game of a back-to-back.

Full article

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The Phoenix Suns have signed guard Mike James to a standard NBA contract. James had previously been under a two-way contract with the team.

The Suns have also waived forward Derrick Jones Jr. The team’s roster now stands at 16 players.

James ranks eighth among NBA rookies with 10.5 points per game and fifth with 4.0 assists per game as he has appeared in all 26 of the Suns’ contests this season (10 starts). James scored a career-high 26 points to go with seven assists at Minnesota on November 26. He also scored 20-plus with 24 points and four steals in a win at Brooklyn on October 31. James currently joins Suns Ring of Honor members Kevin Johnson and Alvan Adams as the only rookies in franchise history to average at least 10 points and four assists.

A 27-year-old in his first NBA season, James initially signed with the Suns on July 3, 2017. An athletic guard at 6-1, 190 pounds, he averaged 13.1 points, 3.0 assists and 0.9 steals in 25 Euroleague games with Panathinaikos in 2016-17, helping the team to the Euroleague playoffs where they lost to eventual champion Fenerbahce. He also posted 12.0 points, 2.8 assists and 0.9 steals in 24 Greek A1 League games as the team won both the Greek Basketball League and the Greek Cup. After going undrafted out of Lamar University in 2012, James had a productive pro career with clubs in Croatia, Israel, Italy, Spain and Greece, prior to joining the Suns.

A member of the Suns’ entry at NBA Summer League 2017 in Las Vegas, James also played for the Suns at NBA Summer League in 2015, helping the team to a runner-up finish.

Jones Jr. appeared in 38 games with the Suns over the past two seasons, averaging 4.7 points and 2.2 rebounds in 15.2 minutes.

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Former NBA All-Star Chris Bosh hasn’t played in a while, but he isn’t ready to officially call it a retirement. Here’s the Palm beach Post reporting:

Although Chris Bosh has not played in an NBA game since Feb. 9, 2016 because of blood clotting issues, he’s not ready to close the door on his NBA playing career just yet.

“That’s still there in front of me,” Bosh said on The Full 48 podcast hosted by Bleacher Report’s Howard Beck. “The window is still open. Once I close the doors, it’s closed. I don’t open it back up. That’s kind of me as a human being. That’s just one of the things about me. … But yeah, for me, I don’t close anything until I’m officially done. So until that day, I will definitely let everybody know when that day comes, if it comes soon.

“I still, of course, work out and everything. I’m still doing work on the court. That’s very important to me. I’m still keeping my options open for the future. I know a lot of people don’t know that, but don’t write me off just yet.”

Full article

Sixers trade Jahlil Okafor to Nets

The Brooklyn Nets have acquired center Jahlil Okafor, guard Nik Stauskas and a 2019 second round draft pick from the Philadelphia 76ers in exchange for forward/center Trevor Booker.

In a subsequent move, the Nets have requested waivers on guard Sean Kilpatrick.

According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, “Booker, 30, in his eighth year in the NBA, is a veteran power forward with an attractive expiring contract. The two-year deal he signed with Brooklyn in 2016 for just over $18 million is up at the end of the 2017-18 campaign.”

“We are excited about the prospects of both Jahlil and Nik, as well as adding another future asset which will aid us in our continued roster development,” said Nets General Manager Sean Marks. “This trade provides us with a good opportunity to bring in two young players who were high picks in recent drafts and give them a chance to succeed in our system. We would also like to thank Trevor, Sean and their families for all of their contributions to our team and the Brooklyn community.”

“Trevor Booker has been a solid and competitive two-way contributor at every NBA stop. Trevor’s abilities should complement our style of play and his experience should add to our bench depth with playoff contention in mind,” said 76ers President of Basketball Operations Bryan Colangelo. “Jahlil and Nik are both quality young men with talent that should keep them productive in this league a long time. We hope they find more opportunity in Brooklyn this season and thank them for their contributions over the past few years.”

Booker, a 6-foot-10 forward, is in the midst of his eighth NBA season. He has appeared in 482 games (160 starts) with Brooklyn, Utah and Washington and holds career averages of 7.1 points and 5.7 rebounds in 21.0 minutes per game. His average of 10.1 points per game in 2017-18 represents a career-best.

Since signing with Brooklyn in the 2016 offseason, Booker has played in 89 games (48 starts) and produced 10.0 points, 7.8 rebounds and 2.0 assists in 24.1 minutes per contest. Before joining the Nets, he’d held career averages of 6.5 points and 5.2 rebounds through his first six NBA seasons.

Booker was originally selected by Washington with the 23rd pick of the 2010 NBA Draft, following four standout seasons at Clemson. As a senior, he was named All-ACC First Team.

Okafor joins the Nets after spending the first two-plus seasons of his NBA career with the 76ers. In 105 career games (81 starts), the 21-year-old has averaged 14.6 points, 5.9 rebounds, 1.2 assists and 1.1 blocks in 26.2 minutes per game. Originally selected with the third overall pick in the 2015 NBA Draft, Okafor saw action in 53 games (48 starts) in his rookie season, registering averages of 17.5 points, 7.0 rebounds, 1.2 assists and 1.2 blocks in 30.0 minutes per game en route to All-Rookie First Team honors. Prior to beginning his NBA career, Okafor spent one year at Duke, helping lead the Blue Devils to the 2015 NCAA Championship. In his lone collegiate season, Okafor recorded averages of 17.3 points, 8.5 rebounds, 1.3 assists and 1.4 blocks in 30.1 minutes per game in 38 contests, earning him Associated Press First Team All-America and ACC Player of the Year honors. He became the first freshman to capture the ACC Player of the Year award in the conference’s history.

Stauskas has appeared in 232 career games (63 starts) with Sacramento (2014-15) and Philadelphia (2015-17), recording averages of 7.3 points, 2.1 rebounds and 1.7 assists in 22.3 minutes per game. The 24-year-old was originally selected with the eighth overall pick in the first round of the 2014 NBA Draft by the Kings out of the University of Michigan. Stauskas spent two years at Michigan, earning Big 10 Player of the Year and Associated Press Second Team-All America honors as a sophomore after averaging 17.5 points on 47.0 percent from the field and 44.2 percent from three-point range, 2.9 rebounds and 3.3 assists in 35.6 minutes per game. Stauskas also helped to lead the Wolverines to NCAA Tournament title game as a freshman and an Elite Eight appearance in his second and final collegiate season.

Booker, who originally signed as a free agent with Brooklyn on July 8, 2016, appeared in 18 games (six starts) this season with the Nets, averaging 10.1 points, 6.6 rebounds and 2.1 assists in 21.9 minutes per contest. In 482 career games with the Nets, Jazz and Wizards, the eight-year veteran has recorded averages of 7.1 points, 5.7 rebounds and 1.1 assists in 21.0 minutes per game.

Kilpatrick originally signed the first of two 10-day contracts on Feb. 28, 2016 before signing a multi-year contract on March 19, 2016. In 109 games (24 starts) with the Nets, Kilpatrick averaged 12.1 points, 3.3 rebounds and 1.8 assists in 22.7 minutes per contest.

Miami Heat change starting lineup

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It’s always fascinating to keep up with lineup changes in the league. One change can make or break a player’s career. Sure, superstars will always get big money and big minutes, but plenty of players who are the 4th or 5th best starter on a team are a coach’s decision away from being bumped to a 6th or 7th man role, and suddenly that huge contract they hoped for in the future is in doubt. And before you ask, no, the photo above doesn’t really have anything to do with lineup changes. It’s just an enjoyable photo. As for the Heat, here’s the South Florida Sun Sentinel reporting:

James Johnson and Kelly Olynyk were back in the Miami Heat’s starting lineup for the first time since October and Justise Winslow was shuffled to the bench when the Heat faced the San Antonio Spurs on Wednesday night at the AT&T Center.

Without comment from coach Erik Spoelstra, the Heat announced the shuffle an hour before the opening tip, a switch that also moved first-round pick Bam Adebayo back to the bench after he had been starting in the injury absence of center Hassan Whiteside.

Olynyk’s only previous start had been the season-opening Oct. 18 road loss to the Orlando Magic, when he started alongside Whiteside in the power rotation.

Full article

Devin Booker injured, out 2-3 weeks

Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker sustained a left adductor strain in the fourth quarter of Tuesday night’s game at Toronto.

Following further evaluation and an MRI, his expected recovery time is approximately two to three weeks.

Stephen Curry out with sprained ankle

Stephen Curry underwent an MRI today in Charlotte, the results of which confirmed that he suffered a sprained right ankle in last night’s game at New Orleans. The MRI indicated that the ankle is stable and structurally intact.

He will be re-evaluated in two weeks.

And here’s the San Jose Mercury News reporting:

According to that timeline, Curry will miss at least five games, beginning with Wednesday’s night contest against the Charlotte Hornets in what would have marked a homecoming appearance. Curry will then miss games in Detroit (Friday), a homestand against Portland (Dec. 11) and Dallas (Dec. 14) as well as a road game against the Los Angeles Lakers (Dec. 18).

The Warriors will have a heavy task in absorbing the absence of Curry, who has averaged 26.3 points while shooting 47.3 percent from the field and 38.1 percent from 3-point range along with 6.6 assists and 5.1 rebounds. Still, the Warriors were relieved of the news since the MRI indicated that the ankle is stable and structurally intact.

Full article

Pistons, Avery Bradley in mini-slump

The Pistons are 14-9, which is one of the best records in the league, but they’re currently on a 3-game losing streak. Also happening lately is, shooting guard Avery Bradley has been missing lots of shots. For more, here’s the Detroit News:

Avery Bradley chased Tony Parker around. He stalked Patty Mills’ dribble. He tried to shoot the gaps on passing lanes and get a steal on a drive to the basket.

It was the least he could do in Monday’s game against the San Antonio Spurs, because he wasn’t able to get much done on the offensive end. Bradley managed three points, on just 1-of-9 shooting, in the Pistons’ 96-93 loss.

There wasn’t much different about Bradley’s approach; the shots just weren’t falling. He’s mired in a mini-slump over the past three games, notching just 7.3 points and hitting just 27 percent on field goals (9-of-33) and 1-of-13 on 3-pointers.

That’s a significant drop from his previous 12 games, when he posted 18.3 points, hitting 47-percent from the field and from beyond the arc.

Full article

Ryan Anderson should return soon

The Rockets are one of the best teams in the NBA this season, and they should have a key piece back in action soon. Here’s the Houston Chronicle reporting:

Ryan Anderson should return soon from back issue

The Rockets listed forward Ryan Anderson as questionable to play against the Utah Jazz on Thursday, with his availability to be determined how the tightness in his lower back responds to two practices since he left Sunday’s game. But Anderson has improved so much since his back “locked up” that he was cleared to practice on Tuesday at UCLA.

“It’s feeling a lot better,” Anderson, who had a neck injury in the 2013-14 season, but has not had issues with his back, said.

Full article

This week in Utah Jazz history

Dec. 4, 1993: The Jazz retired uniform No. 35 in honor of Darrell Griffith. Griffith, nicknamed “Golden Griff” and Dr. Dunkenstein,” averaged 16.2 points during his career with Utah.

Dec. 5, 2000: Karl Malone converted a finger roll in the lane for two points, moving past Wilt Chamberlain and into second place on the NBA’s all-time scoring list… Malone scored 31 points in Utah’s 98-84 win over Toronto, giving him 31,443 career points, 24 more than Chamberlain’s 31,419 points.

Dec. 7, 1982: The Utah Jazz, in a 137-121 loss at Portland, set an NBA record for free throw percentage in a game, connecting on all 39 of their attempts from the line.

Dec. 9, 1988: Jerry Sloan was named head coach of the Utah Jazz, replacing Frank Layden, who resigned as head coach. Sloan’s coaching tenure was the longest term of service with one team in NBA history. The Jazz retired No. 1 in honor of Frank Layden on December 9, 1988.

Dec. 10, 1981: The Jazz hired Frank Layden as head coach.

- Jazz team notes

NBA Week 8 preview notes

DYNAMIC DONOVAN: As a freshman at Louisville in 2015-16, Donovan Mitchell started five games and averaged 7.4 points for the season. On Dec. 1, the Utah Jazz guard became the first NBA rookie to score at least 40 points in a game since Blake Griffin in 2011. The 6-3 Mitchell has developed rapidly over the last few years, allowing him to make an immediate impact after being selected with the 13th pick in NBA Draft 2017. He is averaging more than 16 points per game and leads all rookies in three-pointers made. With Mitchell sparking the offense, Utah has won five consecutive games to improve to 12-11. Mitchell faces several challenging opponents at shooting guard during Week 8, including a matchup against newly named NBA Western Conference Player of the Week James Harden and the West-leading Houston Rockets on Thursday at 10:30 p.m. ET on TNT.

SECOND HELPING: While Mitchell is one of many rookies making headlines, several talented second-year players are also turning heads this season. Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid and Boston Celtics guard/forward Jaylen Brown have helped fuel strong starts for their respective teams. Los Angeles Lakers forward Brandon Ingram and Denver Nuggets guard Jamal Murray have produced big scoring games. Reigning Rookie of the Year Malcolm Brogdon of the Milwaukee Bucks remains a steady contributor, while Chicago Bulls guard Kris Dunn and Indiana Pacers forward Domantas Sabonis are finding their groove after offseason trades. Count Sacramento Kings guard Buddy Hield, San Antonio Spurs guard Dejounte Murray and Toronto Raptors big men Jakob Poeltl and Pascal Siakam among the top second-year performers, too. The promising play from the NBA’s first- and second-year players sets the stage for a fantastic Rising Stars Challenge during NBA All-Star 2018 in Los Angeles.

NBA MEXICO CITY GAMES 2017: This week, the NBA will play two regular-season games in Mexico City for the second straight season. The Brooklyn Nets will participate in both games, meeting the Oklahoma City Thunder on Thursday (10 p.m. ET, NBA League Pass) and the Miami Heat on Saturday (6 p.m. ET, NBA TV) at the Arena Ciudad de Mexico. All three teams will be playing regular-season games in Mexico for the first time. The matchups mark the 25th and 26th games – including the sixth and seventh regular-season games – in Mexico since 1992, the most held in any country outside the United States and Canada. Last season, the Phoenix Suns played two regular-season games in Mexico City, defeating the San Antonio Spurs and losing to the Dallas Mavericks.

– NBA Broadcasters Bulletin

NBA suspends referee Courtney Kirkland for one week, and Shaun Livingston for one game

NBA Official Courtney Kirkland has been removed from the league’s officiating rotation for one week and Golden State Warriors guard Shaun Livingston has been suspended one game without pay for their roles in an on-court altercation, it was announced today by Kiki VanDeWeghe, Executive Vice President, Basketball Operations.

The incident, which began when Livingston aggressively approached Kirkland while protesting a non-call, occurred with 6:24 remaining in the second quarter of the Warriors’ 123-95 win over the Miami Heat on Sunday, Dec. 3 at AmericanAirlines Arena.

As part of the incident, Livingston and Kirkland bumped heads, and Livingston was assessed a technical foul and ejected for making contact with a game official. Upon league office review, it was determined that Kirkland moved toward Livingston and shared responsibility for the contact that occurred.

Kirkland’s suspension will begin tonight and run through Sunday, Dec. 10. He will be eligible to return to game action on Monday, Dec. 11.

Livingston will serve his suspension tonight when the Warriors play the New Orleans Pelicans at Smoothie King Center.

 

 

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The Knicks are now 11-11 this season. A solid record. Certainly a nice step in the right direction from the recent past. But lately they’re dealing with some injuries. Here’s the New York Post reporting:

Already without Kristaps Porzingis (ankle/illness), the Knicks unexpectedly learned shortly before tipoff that second-leading Tim Hardaway Jr. (left leg) would also be out. Though the team overcame an early 17-point deficit, the Knicks struggled late without their top options, fading in the fourth quarter, and falling to the Magic, 105-100, Sunday at Madison Square Garden.

The Knicks (11-11) play the Pacers on Monday night having lost four of their past five games. The Knicks announced Hardaway has a stress injury in his lower left leg and will not travel to Indiana, and neither will Porzingis.

Despite losing Porzingis in the opening minutes of Wednesday’s win against the Heat, the Knicks put on one of their best performances of the season. But the superstar’s second straight absence, combined with Hardaway — whose previously unreported injury was announced barely 30 minutes before the game began — sitting for the first time all season, was too much to overcome.

Full article

And here’s the New York Daily News:

The hope is that Porzingis will be available for Wednesday’s home game against Memphis which would give his ankle a full week to recover. Hardaway’s status is unclear and the Knicks didn’t provide many answers to what caused the injury or how long it could sideline the veteran shooting guard.

Hardaway Jr. had been bothered by plantar fasciitis in his left foot but that appears to be unrelated to his most recent injury.

Full article

Hornets begin stretch of home games

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The Hornets are just 8-13 so far this season, which is the 12th best record in the Eastern conference. The upcoming week will provide an interesting variety tests at home which may help determine which direction they’re headed. Here’s the Charlotte Observer reporting the latest:

This is a big week for the Hornets, with four consecutive home games (Magic, Golden State Warriors, Chicago Bulls and Los Angeles Lakers) over six days. The Hornets have been terrible on the road this season (1-10), but are 7-3 at Spectrum Center.

Ten of the Hornets’ next 13 games are in Charlotte. What has to change to get this team right?

“We’ve got to change our approach. We have to have carryover from (what’s instructed in) shootarounds to the games,” Walker said. “Coach (Steve Clifford) and the staff give us a great game plan each and every night to execute, and we haven’t been doing that.

Full article

Cavs and Derrick Rose discuss future

It remains unclear if Derrick Rose will return to the Cavs. A guess is, he probably will. But nobody can make an educated guess on this. Only Rose knows if he wants to continue playing pro basketball, and also earning massive sneaker contract money in the process. Here’s ESPN.com reporting the latest:

Cavs and Derrick Rose discuss future

Cavaliers head coach Tyronn Lue on Saturday said there has been positive dialogue between Derrick Rose and the organization, as Rose continues to ponder his future in the NBA.

Speaking before Cleveland’s game against the Memphis Grizzlies, Lue did not want to delve into further details about the recent communication between parties, directing media members to speak with Cavs general manager Koby Altman.

When asked about Lue’s comments, Altman, who was attending Saturday’s game, affirmed that the dialogue with Rose and his representatives has been positive, acknowledging there would likely be another update regarding his status in the near future.

Full article

Kevin Love deserves major credit for Cavs success

The Cavs started slowly this season, figured out how to play together despite a bunch of injuries, and now look about as good as could be expected considering they are still without new point guard Isaiah Thomas. Everyone knows LeBron James is still himself, and therefore awesome, but Kevin Love is the very next name that needs to be mentioned. Here’s the News Herald reporting:

Kevin Love should feel like the guy who is often nominated for Best Supporting Actor but never wins the Oscar.

Love has played almost as big a part in the Cavaliers’ 10-game winning streak as LeBron James, but outside the Cavs’ organization, he rarely gets the credit he deserves for the contributions he makes. That goes back to 2016 when the Cavs won their only NBA championship.

When the Cavaliers lost to Golden State in the 2017 Finals, the rumor mill quickly started churning out the notion of trading Love to the New York Knicks for Carmelo Anthony. He was also linked to a trade to the Indiana Pacers for Paul George.

Full article

Austin Rivers fined by NBA

Austin Rivers fined by NBA

Los Angeles Clippers guard Austin Rivers has been fined $25,000 for directing inappropriate comments toward a fan, it was announced today by Kiki VanDeWeghe, Executive Vice President, Basketball Operations.

The incident occurred with 3:14 remaining in the fourth quarter of the Clippers’ 126-107 loss to the Utah Jazz on Thursday, Nov. 30 at Staples Center.

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