Archive for September, 2018

Rockets made moves with Warriors in mind

Here’s the Houston Chronicle with an interview that provides some insight on Rockets decision-making:

Question: You mentioned an obsession with beating the Warriors last season? They remain the team to beat. How much do your roster decisions or Mike D’Antoni’s rotation decisions consider a potential matchup with the Warriors as opposed to decisions that might be made in general?

Rockets general manager Daryl Morey: I’d say a lot, a very high percentage. A lot of those decisions work against every team. Same as last year, it’s very likely to win the title we’re going to have to beat the Warriors at some point. We’re doing what we can to prepare for them. To me, that’s what any rational person would do. I’m intrigued by some thinking it’s odd that we say that. Maybe because it’s not a norm. Ask any fan, ‘Who do you have to beat to win the title?’ They’re going to say ‘the Warriors.’ It seems like GM speak or coachspeak to not say that.

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Stan Van Gundy knows coaching. Sure, he probably knows other things, too. He can walk around. He can do this and that. He probably knows how to do the things you or I do. But he definitely also knows NBA coaching, and may seek a return to those ranks. Here’s the Detroit Free Press with an in-depth update:

Stan Van Gundy may want to return to coaching

Stan Van Gundy is enjoying life.

In the spring, he took his wife, Kim, on a European vacation, their first as a couple.

Last month, Kim gifted him with birthday tickets to the Fox Theater where they grooved to the sounds of Gladys Knight and the O’Jays.

The next day, he played fetch with family dogs, Opie and Eastwood, in the backyard of his lakefront home in Clarkston. Later, he was a picture of comfort inside as the dogs slumbered, worn out from playing on the warm August day.

It’s clear the former Detroit Pistons coach doesn’t have to work another day the rest of his life. A comfortable retirement where he works at his leisure awaits – if he wants it.

But with his May firing still fresh, he’s not sure he wants comfort.

He thinks he might want to coach again.

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The Washington Wizards will host their annual Open Practice on Friday, September 28, 2018 at 6:00 p.m. at the Entertainment and Sports Arena in Congress Heights.

The event is open to the public and seating will be on a first-come, first-served basis.

The first 500 fans through the door will receive a free T-shirt, and the first 200 fans will receive a pass to participate in a post-practice autograph session with select Wizards players.

Activities planned for the event in addition to the open practice and team scrimmage include a dunk contest, half-court shooting contest, performances by the Wizards Dancers and Wiz Kids and music from the Ballou High School Band.

Fans interested in attending the open practice are encouraged to RSVP here:

Doors for the open practice will open at 5:00 p.m.

Bulls center Omer Asik is out indefinitely with inflammatory arthritis that flared up over the summer. He has been receiving ongoing medical treatment and management, but his return to basketball activities is yet to be determined.

Asik came to the Bulls in a trade with the New Orleans Pelicans on Feb. 1, 2018. He also played for Chicago in the 2010-11 and 2011-12 NBA seasons. He has career averages of 2.9 points and 4.4 rebounds in 152 games for the Bulls.

The Milwaukee Bucks have signed free agents Tim Frazier, Shabazz Muhammad and Christian Wood to complete their 20-man roster for training camp, which tips-off on Tuesday, Sept. 25 from the Froedtert & the Medical College of Wisconsin Sports Science Center.

Frazier spent the 2017-18 season with the Washington Wizards where he appeared in 59 games (11 starts) and averaged 3.0 points, 3.3 assists and 1.9 rebounds in 14.2 minutes per contest. The 6-foot guard from Penn State has played four seasons in the NBA from 2014-18 with Philadelphia, Portland, New Orleans and Washington and holds career averages of 5.2 points, 4.0 assists and 2.3 rebounds in 186 career games.

Muhammad finished the 2017-18 season with the Bucks, playing in 11 regular season games and four postseason contests, after signing with Milwaukee on March 4. He averaged 8.5 points and 2.8 rebounds per game with the Bucks while shooting 55.2 percent from the field. Muhammad began the 2017-18 season with Minnesota where he averaged 3.8 points and 1.4 rebounds in 32 games. The 6-foot-5 guard from UCLA has played in 278 career games, including the first 267 of his career with the Timberwolves, and holds career averages of 9.0 points and 2.8 rebounds per contest.

Wood most recently played with the Bucks 2018 Las Vegas Summer League team where he earned All-NBA Summer League First Team honors after averaging 20.4 points, 10.8 rebounds and 2.8 blocks per game while shooting 55.0 percent from the field in five games. Wood, a 6-foot-10 UNLV product, played the 2017-18 season with the Delaware 87ers of the NBA G League where he averaged 23.3 points, 10.4 rebounds, 2.2 assists, 1.8 blocks and 1.1 steals per game and was selected to the All-G League Second Team. He has appeared in 30 games in the NBA with both Philadelphia and Charlotte, and holds career averages of 3.2 points and 2.2 rebounds per game.

Kings waive center Deyonta Davis

The Sacramento Kings waived center Deyonta Davis today.

In two seasons with Memphis, Davis has accrued averages of 4.3 points (.593 FG%, .640 FT%), 3.2 rebounds and 12.1 minutes.

Sacramento Kings guard Bogdan Bogdanovic exited Serbia’s 91-65 World Cup Qualifying victory over Estonia on Monday after experiencing left knee discomfort early in the first quarter. Further evaluation revealed a minor injury to his left knee.

On Monday, a minor arthroscopic procedure is scheduled at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York, to be performed by Dr. Riley Williams.

The Kings expect Bogdanovic to make a full recovery.

Raptors sign Eric Moreland

The Toronto Raptors have signed center Eric Moreland.

Moreland, 6-foot-10, 238 pounds, owns career averages of 2.0 points, 3.7 rebounds and 11.0 minutes in 78 NBA games with Sacramento and Detroit. He is shooting .543 (70-129) from the field and has scored in double digits three times.

A native of Houston, Texas, Moreland averaged 2.1 points, 4.1 rebounds and 12.0 minutes in 67 contests (three starts) with the Pistons last season. He recorded career highs of 16 points and 17 rebounds in 41 minutes Apr. 11 at Chicago.

Moreland played four collegiate seasons at Oregon State (2010-14). He averaged 7.2 points, 8.6 rebounds and 25.0 minutes in 89 career games. Moreland left as the school’s all-time leader in total blocks (184) and ranked fifth in total rebounds (762).

The Indiana Pacers have signed free agents Omari Johnson, Ben Moore and Elijah Stewart to contracts.

The players are likely just training camp additions.

Additionally, guard C.J. Wilcox, who was signed to a two-way contract in August, suffered a torn right Achilles tendon during an offseason workout. Wilcox underwent successful surgery to repair the tendon and will miss the entire 2018-19 regular season.

The Minnesota Timberwolves today announced additions to the team’s coaching staff for the upcoming season, naming Malik Allen and Larry Greer as Assistant Coaches, Pat Zipfel as Advance Scout, and Brian Randle as Assistant Video Coordinator.

The team also announced it has promoted Daisuke Yoshimoto to Special Assistant to the President of Basketball Operations/Player Development Coach, Steve Molina to Video Coordinator and Kwadzo Ahelegbe to Assistant Video Coordinator.

Allen joins the Timberwolves after spending the last four seasons as an Assistant Coach with the Detroit Pistons. He finished a 10-year playing career in 2011, having played in 478 career games with Charlotte, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Miami, Milwaukee, New Jersey and Orlando. He averaged 4.9 points and 2.8 rebounds in 15.2 minutes per game during his playing career. A native of Willingboro, N.J., Allen played four years at Villanova University.

Greer moves to the Timberwolves bench after spending last season as the team’s Advance Scout. His NBA career has included stops in Houston (2005-07), Portland (2007-12) and Oklahoma City (2015-17). Greer’s background also includes 17 seasons as an Assistant Coach in the college ranks with stops at Arizona State University (2012-15), Boston University (1994-2003), Brandeis University (1989-92) and Wright State University (2003-05). His brother, Andy, is also an assistant on Coach Thibodeau’s staff.

Zipfel rejoins the Timberwolves after spending the last three seasons as the Head Coach at Mansfield University. Zipfel’s career has included stints as Advance Scout under Coach Thibodeau with the Chicago Bulls from 2013-15. Prior to joining Thibodeau’s staff with the Bulls, Zipfel was an Advance Scout on Rick Adelman’s staff with the Timberwolves. His NBA career has also included stops with the Houston Rockets (2007-11), Portland Trail Blazers (2004-07) and L.A. Clippers (2000-03).

Randle joins the Timberwolves’ video department after spending the last 10 seasons overseas playing professionally in Germany, Israel and Italy, including reaching the Eurocup Final Four with Hapoel Migdal Jerusalem in Israel last season. Randle was a student-athlete at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, being named to the Big Ten All-Defensive Team in 2006.

Yoshimoto has spent the last two seasons as Special Assistant to the President of Basketball Operations. He joined the Timberwolves in 2016 after working in the video departments in Chicago, Denver and New Jersey.

Molina started with the Timberwolves prior to last season after working as an intern with the Detroit Pistons and Philadelphia 76ers. A graduate from Marquette University, Molina was a student manager during his four years in Milwaukee.

Ahelegbe joined the Timberwolves prior to last season after playing professionally overseas after college. A graduate of the University of Northern Iowa, Ahelegbe was named the Missouri Valley Conference Defensive Player of the Year as a senior in 2011.

The Miami HEAT have added Anthony Carter to their coaching staff, as Player Development Coach.

He will be involved in all aspects of player development for the HEAT and implementing Miami’s player development and mentorship programs with the HEAT’s G League affiliate, the Sioux Falls Skyforce.

The former HEAT guard was recently an assistant coach with the Skyforce the last two seasons after serving as assistant coach with the Sacramento Kings (2015-16) and the Austin Spurs (2013-15). Carter, whose career spanned 13 years and 623 games (181 starts), spent his first four NBA seasons with the HEAT, appearing in 246 regular season games (80 starts). He helped Miami to a pair of postseason appearances where he set the record for the most assists in a three-game series against the Detroit Pistons in the 2000 First Round matchup. After his stint in Miami, he went on to play with San Antonio, Minnesota, Denver, New York and Toronto.

When you add LeBron James to a team, it doesn’t automatically mean the squad will instantly start winning and have no growing pains. Chances are, the Lakers will win more than they lose early on, but as new key players learn to play with each other, there will be winning streaks but also some losing. One step back, two steps forward, on and on. Here’s reporting that Magic Johnson understand this, and won’t hold it against head coach Luke Walton if there are some early-season bumps:

Saying he understands that the revamped Los Angeles Lakers will need time to mesh, Magic Johnson said he told head coach Luke Walton not to worry if the team gets off to a bumpy start this season.

“As I was talking to Luke [with GM Rob Pelinka], we said don’t worry about if we get out to a bad start,” Johnson, the Lakers’ president of basketball operations, said Thursday as the team’s brass met with the media. “We have seen that with LeBron [James] going to Miami, and we have seen that when he came back to Cleveland. He is going to struggle because there are so many new moving parts. But eventually we are going to get it, and we are going to be really a good team.”

The Lakers added veterans such as James, Rajon Rondo, Lance Stephenson, JaVale McGee and Michael Beasley in free agency to go with a young developing core of Brandon Ingram, Kyle Kuzma, Lonzo Ball and Josh Hart. In addition to adding multiple players who have been at their best with the ball in their hands, the Lakers injected their locker room with some strong and unique personalities.

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On the role of Dirk Nowitzki this season

Here’s the Dallas Morning News reporting on Mavs forward Dirk Nowitzki, whose career is winding down and his role continues to diminish:

His role on the court won’t change a bit. He’ll still be featured in the pick-and-pop and the spot-up shooting roles. And the one-legged fadeaway that he pioneered will come out of mothballs every so often. What is unknown is at what points Nowitzki will be on the court during the course of games. His 22 to 24 minutes of playing time could come at the start of each half, but that would mean either Wesley Matthews assumes the sixth man role or Luka Doncic isn’t starting. And if Doncic isn’t a starter, something has gone haywire. It might make sense to bring Nowitzki off the bench as the sixth man, pairing him with J.J. Barea and maybe another guard to be named. That grouping has always been very effective. But no matter what, season No. 21 will be a celebration of Nowitzki’s basketball life. It seems likely to be his last. Maybe.

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On Warriors forward-center Kevon Looney

Here’s NBC Sports Bay Area with a look at what Kevon Looney’s role on the Warriors may be in 2018-19:

On Warriors forward-center Kevon Looney

With new acquisition DeMarcus Cousins expected to rehab well into the regular season, there is open competition at center that includes Looney. Though he’s likely to earn some starts at center, he’s more likely to be used as a reserve big man in a small lineup. His offense has been spotty, but there is reason to anticipate improvement. He’s smart and operates well within the team’s switching defensive schemes, gaining the trust of his teammates. As long as he is healthy, though, Looney will get minutes.

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Here’s the Daily Breeze reporting what Clippers coach Doc Rivers had to say about his squad as the 2018-19 season approaches:

Instead of teeing it up on a golf course, Doc Rivers spent Wednesday morning on a terrace at the Clippers Training Center, sipping coffee and explaining to reporters why, entering his sixth season as the Clippers coach, he’s so excited about the challenge that his job presents.

“I could’ve stayed in Boston and been safe, but you want the challenge, and I looked at the Clippers as the ultimate challenge,” said Rivers, who was joined Wednesday by Lawrence Frank, the team’s president of basketball operations.

“Historically, we’ve had some shaky (times),” Rivers continued. “But lately we’ve been really good, we just haven’t been the best. And my two goals are, one, to win a title, and two, when you hear that (Clippers) name, you think very positive.

“When you hear free agents and they say, ‘L.A.,’ they’re just not meaning the other team. Five, six years ago, you didn’t hear that, but now … when people say, ‘I want to go to L.A.,’ they mean both teams. And sometimes they mean only our team. To me, that’s a level of success that tells you that we’re doing something right here.”

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Pelicans waive Emeka Okafor

Pelicans waive Emeka Okafor

The New Orleans Pelicans requested waivers on center Emeka Okafor today.

Okafor, 6-10, 252, appeared in 26 regular season games last season with New Orleans after signing with the team on February 3, 2018 and finished the season with averages of 4.4 points, 4.6 rebounds and 1.0 blocks per game.

It’s tough to say if Okafor will find his way back into the NBA. Right now he’s a longshot to make a regular season roster.

Pelicans sign Jarrett Jack

Pelicans sign Jarrett Jack

The New Orleans Pelicans have signed guard Jarrett Jack.

Jack, 6-3, 200, most recently played for the New York Knicks, appearing in 62 games last season (56 starts) while averaging 7.5 points, 5.6 assists and 3.1 rebounds in 25.0 minutes per contest.

This will be Jack’s third stint with New Orleans, as he appeared in two games with the Pelicans in 2016-17 and 115 games between 2010-12. In 117 regular season games for New Orleans, Jack has averaged 11.1 points, 4.0 assists and 2.6 rebounds in 25.1 minutes per game.

Selected 22nd overall by the Denver Nuggets in the 2005 NBA Draft out of Georgia Tech, Jack has appeared in 867 career regular season games with Portland, Toronto, New Orleans, Golden State, Cleveland, Brooklyn and New York, holding averages of 10.8 points, 4.6 assists and 2.9 rebounds in 27.8 minutes per contest.

Hawks sign Cole Aldrich

Hawks sign center Cole Alrich

Yesterday, the Atlanta Hawks signed center Cole Aldrich, presumably on a non-guaranteed deal that merely brings Aldrich to training camp.

Aldrich has played eight NBA seasons with Oklahoma City, Houston, Sacramento, New York, the LA Clippers and Minnesota, averaging 3.1 points and 3.3 rebounds in 10.0 minutes (.527 FG%, .738 FG%) in 339 career games (23 starts).

He was originally drafted by New Orleans in the first round (11th overall) of the 2010 NBA Draft, and was traded to Oklahoma City in a draft-night trade.

Aldrich attended Bloomington Jefferson High School (Bloomington, MN) before a three-year career at Kansas. He was a consensus second-team All-American following his junior season in 2010, Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year in 2009 and won a national championship with the Jayhawks in 2008.

Russell Westbrook’s wife is expecting, and the baby will be… two babies. Twin daughters! Here’s the Oklahoman with more:

In a Thunder-produced video posted Tuesday on YouTube entitled “The Westbrook Family,” Russell Westbrook and his wife, Nina Westbrook, are talking about their home life with 1-year-old son Noah, when they drop a surprise about Nina’s pregnancy.

The Westbrooks are expecting twin girls.

“If Noah gets out of hand, they’ll be able to both jump on him at the same time,” Nina said.

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New Sixers GM will be Elton Brand

Elton Brand’s name carries big weight in the playing department, but his experience as an executive is on the limited side. But everybody who gets to know Brand quickly appreciates him, and he has flown up the Philly organizational ranks. The Sixers believe in him, and are reportedly naming him their new general manager. Here’s NBC Sports Philly reporting:

New Sixers GM will reportedly be Elton Brand

The Sixers have hired Elton Brand as their general manager, sources confirmed to NBC Sports Philadelphia’s John Clark.

Per ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, who first reported the news, Brand will be elevated from his previous role as vice president of basketball operations. Brand was also already on board as the Delaware Blue Coats’ general manager. The Sixers conducted an exhaustive search for a new GM after Bryan Colangelo resigned in June following his highly-publicized Twitter scandal. Brett Brown filled the role until the franchise made Brand the choice.

The search included external candidates such as Golden State Warriors assistant general manager Larry Harris, Utah Jazz assistant general manager Justin Zanik and Houston Rockets vice president Gersson Rosas.

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And here’s the Philadelphia Inquirer:

In that partnership that is now Brown and Brand, it’s still unclear who will have the final say. Brown said Tuesday that once a general manager was named, the power structure and organizational chart would also be discussed and revealed.

On Thursday, Brand will be formally introduced as Sixers general manager and at that time both will have to answer the question; Who will have the final say when it comes to decision making? Of course, ownership will always have the final say, but that usually comes in the form of green-lighting a GM’s decision.

The Sixers have created a strong front office that includes Alex Rucker (who was promoted to executive vice president of basketball operations on Tuesday), Ned Cohen, and Marc Eversley.

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