Archive for June 26th, 2018

The National Basketball Association (NBA) and the National Basketball League (NBL) today announced that for the second consecutive year, NBL teams will travel to the U.S. to participate in the NBA preseason.

Five NBL teams, including the Adelaide 36ers, Melbourne United, New Zealand Breakers, Perth Wildcats and Sydney Kings, will play a total of seven games against NBA teams in the 2018 NBA preseason, including the Denver Nuggets, LA Clippers, Philadelphia 76ers, Phoenix Suns, Toronto Raptors and Utah Jazz, from Sept. 28 – Oct. 5. This marks the most games NBA teams will play against teams from an international league in a single preseason.

The first game will feature the Melbourne United against the Philadelphia 76ers on Sept. 28 at the Wells Fargo Center. The 76ers are led by Australian point guard and 2018 Kia NBA Rookie of the Year Ben Simmons and Brett Brown, head coach of the 76ers and former coach of the Australia men’s national team.

On Sept. 29, the Perth Wildcats will play Australians Joe Ingles and Dante Exum of the Utah Jazz at the Vivint Smart Home Arena. Former NBA player Andrew Bogut and the Sydney Kings will then face the LA Clippers at the Stan Sheriff Center in Honolulu, Hawaii on Sept. 30, before the Phoenix Suns host the New Zealand Breakers at the Talking Stick Resort Arena on Oct. 3.

The schedule culminates on Oct. 5 with three games: the Perth Wildcats vs. the Denver Nuggets at the Pepsi Center; Melbourne United vs. the Toronto Raptors at the Scotiabank Arena in Toronto, Canada; the Adelaide 36ers vs. the Utah Jazz at the Vivint Smart Home Arena.

There were a record-tying eight Australian players on 2017-18 opening night NBA rosters, including Simmons, Ingles, Exum and Bogut. Seven Australian players and one New Zealander were on team rosters for the 2018 NBA Playoffs.

NBL Owner and Executive Chairman Larry Kestelman:

“The increased number of games symbolizes the continued strength of the NBL-NBA partnership and the growth of our league in Australia and New Zealand. These initiatives continue to position the NBL as the second best league and entertainment product in the world outside the NBA.”

NBA Asia Managing Director Scott Levy:

“We are excited to build on our partnership with the NBL to expand the number of their teams participating in this year’s NBA preseason. There’s incredible momentum around basketball in Australia and New Zealand, and our fans can look forward to a tremendous slate of games showcasing some of the best talent the NBA and NBL have to offer.”

Sydney Kings Center Andrew Bogut:

“I’m excited to have the opportunity to play for the Sydney Kings against the LA Clippers. This is also a great opportunity to showcase the NBL against some of the best players in the world at a time when the league and Australian and New Zealand basketball is thriving.”

Sydney Kings Head Coach and five-time Olympian Andrew Gaze:

“We loved going to play in the NBA preseason last year and for five teams to now have that opportunity this year is another feather in the cap of the NBL. We can’t wait to take on the LA Clippers and I’m sure Australian and New Zealand basketball fans will be just as excited about these games.”

Magic announce assistant coaching staff

The Orlando Magic have named Mike Batiste, Tyrone Corbin, Pat Delany, Steve Hetzel and Bruce Kreutzer assistant coaches, President of Basketball Operations Jeff Weltman announced today.

Batiste, Corbin, Delany, Hetzel and Kreutzer will serve on the coaching staff under Steve Clifford, who was named head coach of the Magic on May 30.

In addition, the Magic have added Rick Higgins as associate coach/player development, Mark Jenkins as assistant video coordinator and promoted Lionel Chalmers to head video coordinator.

Batiste joins Orlando after spending last season (2017-18) as an assistant coach with the Charlotte Hornets under Clifford. He came to Charlotte after serving as a player development assistant with the Brooklyn Nets in 2016-17 and two seasons (2014-16) as an assistant coach with the Canton Charge of the NBA G League.

Prior to his coaching career, Batiste played professionally for 14 seasons, including one season (2002-03) in the NBA with the Memphis Grizzlies. He spent 10 years with Panathinaikos of the Greek Basket League, helping lead the club to eight consecutive league championships and earning the league’s MVP award in 2010. Batiste also won three EuroLeague championships (2007, 2009 and 2011), garnered All-EuroLeague First Team honors in 2011 and was named All-EuroLeague Second Team in 2012. He also had professional stints with clubs in Belgium, Italy and Turkey.

Corbin comes to Orlando with nearly 30 years of NBA experience as both a player and a coach. Most recently, he spent the last two seasons (2016-18) as an assistant coach with the Phoenix Suns.

Prior to joining Phoenix, Corbin spent the 2014-15 campaign as an assistant coach with the Sacramento Kings, before being named interim head coach for 28 games (7-21 record). He was relieved of his duties on February 12, 2015 and remained with the organization as an advisor.

Corbin began his coaching career with the Utah Jazz, joining the staff in 2004. He spent seven seasons (2004-11) as an assistant coach before succeeding Jerry Sloan as the team’s head coach in 2010-11. Corbin spent three-plus seasons (2011-14) as head coach of the Jazz, compiling a record of 112-146 (.434). Utah had a winning record in two of his three full seasons at the helm and made the NBA Playoffs in 2012.

Originally selected in the second round (35th overall) of the 1985 NBA Draft by San Antonio, Corbin played 16 seasons in the NBA. He appeared in 1,065 career regular season games (458 starts) with San Antonio, Cleveland, Phoenix, Minnesota, Utah, Atlanta, Sacramento, Miami and Toronto, averaging 9.2 ppg., 4.7 rpg., 1.8 apg. and 1.15 stlpg. in 26.0 minpg. Corbin also played in 81 career playoff games (43 starts), averaging 8.4 ppg., 5.0 rpg. and 1.4 apg. in 27.5 minpg.

Delany joins Orlando after spending four seasons (2014-18) as an assistant coach with the Charlotte Hornets under Clifford. He came to Charlotte after spending the 2013-14 campaign as head coach of the Sioux Falls Skyforce of the NBA G League. During his lone season with Sioux Falls, Delany led the Skyforce to a 31-19 record, tied for the second-best mark in the league and posted the fifth-best winning percentage in the franchise’s 25-year history.

Hetzel comes to Orlando after spending four seasons (2014-18) as an assistant coach with the Charlotte Hornets under Clifford. He joined Charlotte after spending the 2013-14 campaign as head coach of the Canton Charge of the NBA G League. During his lone season with Canton, Hetzel led the Charge to a 28-22 record, finishing second in the East division and posted the second-best winning percentage in franchise history.

Kreutzer comes to Orlando after spending three seasons (2015-18) as an assistant coach with the Charlotte Hornets under Clifford. He joined Charlotte after serving as a shooting consultant for the NBA G League (2008-11) and Philadelphia 76ers (2008-10).

Washington Wizards President Ernie Grunfeld announced today that the team has acquired guard Austin Rivers from the Los Angeles Clippers in exchange for center Marcin Gortat.

“Acquiring Austin gives us another versatile, experienced player who provides scoring and playmaking,” said Grunfeld. “He is coming off a career year and his ability to create offense for himself and others will help our second unit and allow us to play a variety of lineups throughout the season.”

“We are excited to welcome Marcin Gortat to the Clippers, a respected player that brings years of NBA experience and additional toughness to this team. We’ve been a fan of Marcin’s for some time and this decision will help rebalance the roster by adding another proven big man to the front court,” said Lawrence Frank, Clippers’ President of Basketball Operations. “Austin’s development as a player is a testament to his work ethic and desire to improve. We experienced a lot of success with Austin and are grateful for his contributions during his four seasons with the club. The Clippers wish Brittany and Austin all the best in Washington.”

Rivers (6-5, 200) averaged career highs of 15.1 points, 4.0 assists, 2.4 rebounds and 1.2 steals this season while shooting a career-high .378 (136-360) from three-point range in 61 games (59 starts). The 25-year-old guard posted 12 games of 20+ points, three games of 30+ points and set a new career high with 38 points at Memphis on Dec. 22 (one night after scoring 36 at Houston).

He holds career averages of 9.4 points and 2.4 rebounds in 408 career games (130 starts) while shooting .355 from three-point range in five seasons with the Clippers and New Orleans. The 10th overall pick in the 2012 NBA Draft, Rivers has appeared in 23 career playoff games (six starts), all with the Clippers. He entered the NBA after one season at Duke, where he earned First Team All-ACC honors.

Gortat, who was originally acquired prior to the 2013-14 season, posted 11.6 points, 9.2 rebounds and 1.1 blocks while shooting .555 from the field in 402 (out of a possible 410) games over his five seasons in Washington. The team posted an .543 (223-187) overall record and made four playoff appearances during his tenure.

“We appreciate Marcin’s contributions during his time with us and wish him the best moving forward,” said Grunfeld. “He is a very durable professional who helped the team in many ways to become a perennial playoff contender and set an example with his work in the community both in D.C. and in his native country of Poland.”

The Celtics were clearly one of the best teams in the NBA this past season, and despite falling short, came close to eliminating LeBron James in the Eastern Conference Finals. They did this in the regular season without the services of Gordon Hayward, and then then played excellent basketball in the postseason without Kyrie Irving. Hayward missed the entire season, but says he should be good to go for the start of 2018-19. Here’s ESPN.com reporting:

Boston Celtics forward Gordon Hayward detailed the reasons for his May surgery to remove hardware from his ankle and said he plans to be full-go for the start of the 2018-19 season in a post to his personal blog on Monday.

In an entry entitled, “Won’t Be Long Now,” Hayward detailed how lingering pain in his surgically-repaired left ankle spurred a decision to have the follow-up surgery but stressed how he plans to be playing full-court, 5-on-5 basketball again by the end of July.

“[The follow-up surgery was] not something we were expecting to be a part of this recovery process but I’m happy to report that I’ll be back out there resuming rehab soon, with my sights set firmly on being back to my usual self for the start of next season,” wrote Hayward, who admitted the procedure was deemed “very rare” by his doctors.

Full article

Free agency is approaching. Many players and teams have major decisions to make. One is a team responsibility — deciding whether to extend qualifying offers to players or letting them enter unrestricted free agency. Here’s the Mercury News reporting on the Warriors:

The Warriors took an expected step in providing clarity to their bench, extending reserve guard/forward Patrick McCaw with a $1.641 million qualifying offer that will make him a restricted free agent.

By making McCaw a restricted free agent, the Warriors have the right to match any offer he receives from other teams. Although McCaw would love to maximize his earnings, he also has said he would love to remain with the Warriors because of their recent championship success and how they have developed him.

Full article

Magic Johnson is more than ready to put pressure on himself in regard to his Lakers front office role. But reminds everybody that it’s not all about this summer, but the next one as well. Here’s the LA Times with more on what Magic said to the media today:

Lakers president of basketball operations Magic Johnson said Tuesday he will step down from his role if the Lakers fail to attract marquee players in the free-agency periods of 2018 and 2019.

“Next summer if nobody comes and I’m still sitting here like this, then it’s a failure,” Johnson said. “But if you judge us on one summer that’s ridiculous. Then a lot of dudes shouldn’t be in their roles. Because if we’re banking on one summer for the Lakers we’re in trouble, we’re in trouble. You have to give us time. This class, like I told you before I took the job and when I took the job, it’s going to be a two-summer thing for the Lakers. This summer and next summer. That’s it.

“If I can’t deliver I’m going to step down myself, she won’t have to fire me,” he said of controlling owner Jeanie Buss. “I’ll step away from it, because I can’t do this job.”

Full article

Timberwolves rookies ready to work

Tons of attention goes towards big-name rookies, but each year plenty of less heralded players emerge, and tracking them, from draft through summer league through the season, is always lots of fun. Here’s the Minneapolis Star Tribune reporting on some new Timberwolves:

New Timberwolves Josh Okogie and Keita Bates-Diop met the Twin Cities media on Tuesday outside the team offices and were set to start their new jobs quickly.

“We’ll begin tonight — their first workout is tonight,” said Wolves coach and president of basketball operations Tom Thibodeau.

The players, taken in the NBA Draft on Thursday night, said they were ready to make the big step.

“I think the biggest piece of advice I’ve received is that I’m in charge of my day-to-day, my decisions,” said Okogie, a 6-4 shooting guard who was the team’s first round pick (20th overall) out of Georgia Tech. “I have to be well-suited on and off the court.”

Bates-Diop was taken in the second round (48th) after winning Big Ten player of the year honors as a guard/forward at Ohio State. He was pegged as a first rounder in many mock drafts, but if his fall to the second round hurt him, he didn’t show it.

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It’s the offseason. Which means focusing on basketball things like the draft, free agency, summer league and more, but also fun stuff like… food trucks that NBA players enjoy. Here’s the SF Chronicle reporting on Warriors star Stephen Curry and one place he likes to grab a bite from:

Ayesha Curry may be known for her sit-down San Francisco restaurant, but when the Curry family eats out, they certainly love a food truck.

In his new YouTube series “Five Minutes From Home,” Stephen Curry took YouTube star Rudy Mancuso — you might recognize him as the guy in Curry’s Brita commercial — to “one of the best food trucks in Oakland.” The pair hopped in a Sprinter van to Scotch Bonnet, a Jamaican food truck that makes stops all around the Bay Area.

Of course, the pair ordered the curry shrimp, with Curry adding an order of their popular beef patties.

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There have been lots of jokes over the years about some of JaVale McGee’s decision-making on the court. But the fact is, he did some huge things in a supporting role for the Warriors, especially when it mattered most — in the Finals. Here’s ESPN.com reporting that McGee hopes to continue his low-cost winning ways with Golden State:

Free-agent center JaVale McGee told ESPN he wishes to return to the Golden State Warriors and has no desire to relocate.

“I haven’t thought about [another team] mainly because, hopefully, in my mind, I’m a Warrior for the rest of my career,” he said to ESPN on Monday, six days before the free-agency period begins on July 1. “If that happens, it would be a blessing.”

The first half of the 2017-18 season saw the 7-footer receive minimal playing time, including 16 DNPs. But after the All-Star break, head coach Steve Kerr inserted McGee into the starting lineup in place of Zaza Pachulia to try to spark the Warriors, who were struggling by their own standards.

Full article

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