Archive for October, 2018

The latest on Knicks rookie Kevin Knox

Rookie Kevin Knox is one of the most intriguing young players on the Knicks this season. He will be even more intriguing when he’s health and actually playing basketball again. Which should be relatively soon, though an exact date remains unknown. Here’s the New York Post with an update:

Knox will sit out his fifth straight game Wednesday night against the Pacers, but will travel with the team on the road trip to Dallas and Washington. Knox is currently participating in shooting drills and doing non-contact court activity while increasing his movement on a daily basis.

Despite being sidelined since suffering the left-ankle injury on Oct. 20, Knox believes his learning curve hasn’t slowed, and said he has picked up new things from the bench.

“I really enjoy watching on the side because I can really see the game from a different perspective,” said Knox, who was speaking to the media for the first time since the injury occurred. “It’s really fun to watch on the side, they talk, the way they move the ball, defensively. These past few games I was on the bench watching it was pretty great. I got to talk to players on the bench, tell them what they can do better, more and more leadership I can bring to the team.”

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Pistons exercise contract option on Luke Kennard

The Detroit Pistons yesterday (Tuesday, October 30) exercised their team option on the contract of guard Luke Kennard through the 2019-20 NBA season.

Kennard, 6-6, 206, was selected 12th overall by the Pistons in the 2017 NBA Draft from Duke. Last season, he averaged 7.6 points, 2.4 rebounds, 1.7 assists and 20.0 minutes in 73 games.

Raptors exercise contract options on Pascal Siakam and OG Anunoby

The Toronto Raptors have exercised the fourth-year team option on the rookie scale contract of forward Pascal Siakam and the third-year team option on the rookie scale contract of forward OG Anunoby.

The contracts for Anunoby and Siakam are now guaranteed through the 2019-20 season.

In accordance with the league’s Collective Bargaining Agreement, the Raptors had until Oct. 31, 2018 to exercise their option on both players.

Siakam, 6-foot-9, 230 pounds, is averaging 10.9 points 7.0 rebounds and 26.0 minutes in eight games (seven starts) this season. He set career highs with 22 points Oct. 29 at Milwaukee, and 15 rebounds Oct. 30 vs. Philadelphia.

Siakam was picked by Toronto 27th overall in the 2016 NBA Draft. He has averaged 6.3 points, 4.2 rebounds and 19.1 minutes in 144 games (50 starts) with the Raptors.

Anunoby, 6-foot-8, 232 pounds, was selected by the Raptors with the 23rd overall pick in the 2017 NBA Draft. He has averaged 7.2 points, 3.4 rebounds and 24.2 minutes in five games this season.

Anunoby averaged 5.9 points, 2.5 rebounds and 20.0 minutes in 74 games (62 starts) last season. He ranked seventh among rookies in field goal percentage (.471) and sixth in three-point field goal percentage (.371). Anunoby scored in double figures 10 times with two 20-point performances.

Wizards sign Chasson Randle

Wizards sign Chasson Randle

The Washington Wizards yesterday (Tuesday, October 30) signed guard Chasson Randle from the Capital City Go-Go.

Randle (6-3, 185) spent 2018 training camp with the Wizards and appeared in three preseason games, where he averaged 5.3 points and 2.6 assists per game.

The 25-year-old guard spent the 2016-17 season split between the Philadelphia 76ers and New York Knicks, appearing in 26 total games and averaging 5.3 points per game. The Stanford graduate also appeared in 21 NBA G League games in 2016-17, averaging 20.5 points per game in those contests. Randle spent the 2017-18 season with Real Madrid in Spain, averaging 3.6 points per game in 46 games.

Washington’s roster now stands at 14, not including two-way players Devin Robinson and Jordan McRae.

The Charlotte Hornets have assigned guard Devonte’ Graham to the Greensboro Swarm, the team’s NBA G League affiliate.

Graham has appeared in two games averaging 3.5 points and 1.5 assists in 9.5 minutes per game in his rookie season with the Hornets. Charlotte acquired the rights to Graham, the 34th overall selection in the 2018 NBA Draft, from the Atlanta Hawks in a draft night trade. Graham, a 6-2 guard from Kansas, was the 2017-18 Big 12 Player of the Year and a consensus First Team All-American after averaging 17.3 points, 7.2 assists, 4.0 rebounds and 1.6 steals in 37.8 minutes in 39 games played as a senior.

This marks the Hornets first player assignment to the Swarm this season. The Swarm open their regular-season schedule this weekend with contests at Wisconsin on Nov. 2 and at Capitol City on Nov. 3. The Swarm will return for their Home Opener at the Fieldhouse at the Greensboro Coliseum Complex against the Grand Rapids Drive on Friday, Nov. 10.

Bucks exercise contract options on D.J. Wilson and Thon Maker

The Milwaukee Bucks have exercised the third-year contract option on forward D.J. Wilson and the fourth-year contract option on forward Thon Maker.

Wilson, 22, was the 17th overall selection in the 2017 NBA Draft. He appeared in 22 games for the Bucks in his rookie campaign and averaged 1.0 point and 0.5 rebounds. In 11 games for the Wisconsin Herd, the G League affiliate of the Bucks, Wilson averaged 15.9 points, 5.5 rebounds and 2.4 assists last season.

The 10th overall pick in the 2016 NBA Draft, Maker, 21, is averaging 6.3 points and 4.7 rebounds over three games this season. In his first two seasons with the Bucks, Maker averaged 4.4 points and 2.6 rebounds per game.

Under the terms of the NBA’s current collective bargaining agreement, the first two years of a first round draft pick’s contract are guaranteed, while the third and fourth year of the contract are the team’s option.

The Charlotte Hornets today exercised their third-year option on guard Malik Monk.

The 6-3 Kentucky product is in his second NBA season after appearing in 63 games during his 2017-18 rookie campaign in Charlotte. Through seven games this season, Monk is averaging 11.0 points per game on 35.1% shooting. He holds career averages of 7.1 points, 1.1 rebounds and 1.5 assists in 14.6 minutes per game in 70 contests. Monk was selected by the Hornets 11th overall in the first round of the 2017 NBA Draft.

The Hornets host the Miami Heat tonight at 7 p.m. at Spectrum Center in the first game of a four-game homestand. Charlotte hosts Oklahoma City on Thursday, Nov. 1, Cleveland on Saturday, Nov. 3 and Atlanta on Tuesday, Nov. 6.

Spurs to retire Manu Ginobili jersey

The San Antonio Spurs will retire Manu Ginobili’s No. 20 jersey on Thursday, March 28 when the Silver and Black host the Cleveland Cavaliers at 7:30 p.m. CDT. A special postgame ceremony honoring Ginobili will take place on the AT&T Center floor.

Ginobili will become the ninth player in Spurs franchise history to have his number raised to the rafters, joining Bruce Bowen (12), Tim Duncan (21), Sean Elliott (32), George Gervin (44), Avery Johnson (6), Johnny Moore (00), David Robinson (50) and James Silas (13).

In 16 seasons with the Spurs, Ginobili captured four NBA championships while posting a career winning percentage of .721 (762-295), which is the best winning percentage in NBA history among players who have appeared in at least 1,000 games.

Selected by San Antonio with the 57th overall pick in the 1999 NBA Draft, Ginobili appeared in 1,057 career games, averaging 13.3 points, 3.8 assists, 3.5 rebounds and 1.32 steals in 25.4 minutes. He is the Spurs all-time leader in three-pointers made (1,495) and steals (1,392), while ranking third in games played (1,057), fourth in assists (4,001), fourth in free throws made (3,380) and fifth in points (14,043). Ginobili was named to the All-NBA Third Team in both 2008 and 2011 and was a two-time All-Star (2005 and 2011). The 2008 NBA Sixth Man of the Year is the first sixth man, as well as the first South American, to earn All-NBA honors.

Ginobili and LeBron James are the only two players in NBA postseason history with at least 3,000 points and 300 three-pointers in the playoffs. Ginobili appeared in 218 career playoff games, averaging 14.0 points, 4.0 rebounds, 3.8 assists and 1.34 steals in 27.9 minutes. One of 10 players ever to appear in over 200 playoff games, he came off the bench 165 times and is the all-time leader in NBA postseason history as a reserve in points (2,014), assists (576), rebounds (635), steals (205), field goals made (630), three-pointers made (226) and free throws made (528). Ginobili and Tony Parker combined to record 132 playoff wins together, which are the most victories by any teammates in postseason history.

After signing with the Spurs in the summer of 2002, Ginobili became one of just seven players in NBA history to spend his entire career with one team while playing at least 16 seasons, along with Kobe Bryant, Tim Duncan, John Havlicek, Reggie Miller, Dirk Nowitzki and John Stockton. He is the first South American and just the second player drafted in the second round or later to appear in at least 1,000 games with one team.

Ginobili is one of only two players in history, along with Bill Bradley, to win a EuroLeague title, an NBA championship and an Olympic gold medal.

The Philadelphia 76ers unveiled today their 2018-19 City Edition uniform, which the team says “celebrates Philadelphia’s rich history of the challenger’s mentality that inspired the “Rocky” and “Creed” films.”

Per the team: The uniform’s core displays the iconic circle of 13 stars derived from the boxing ring where Rocky Balboa first squared off against Apollo Creed, while the gray sweatsuit-textured base was influenced by both Adonis Creed’s and Rocky’s legendary training scenes throughout the streets of Philadelphia. The crisp blue, red and white waistband trim on the shorts is inspired by Rocky’s championship belt. Meanwhile, the phrase “PHILADELPHIA, USA,” is embroidered on the lower left hem of the jersey as a nod to the city’s fans, heart and determination.

“We are excited to unveil this season’s City Edition uniform, which pays tribute to the heart, determination, and tenacity of our city and fan base,” Philadelphia 76ers President of Business Operations Chris Heck said. “In partnership with StubHub and MGM, we developed a concept that speaks to the mentality that has defined our city for generations. It’s a nod to a city with a fighter’s toughness and mentality, a mentality that our team and players embody every time they take the floor. As stewards of the 76ers brand, we have an obligation to honor old Philadelphia and celebrate new Philadelphia. We are proud to wear this uniform and represent the City of Brotherly Love.”

The Pistons are an impressive 4-1 to start this new season. That’s too small a sample size to go too overboard with expectation, but it’s still an excellent sign that the team can do some decent things in 2018-19. Leading the team in scoring, in a big way, is power forward Blake Griffin, who is putting up 28.4 points, 10.0 rebounds and 4.6 assists per game, on 50.5% shooting. Griffin has also been amazing from three-point range this season, taking 5.4 three-point attempts per game so far and hitting 55.6% of them. Here’s the Detroit Free Press with more:

He put up a clunker in Saturday’s 109-89 loss to the Boston Celtics. But other than that, he has played as well as any player in the league. Griffin scored 50 last Tuesday in an overtime win against the Philadelphia Sixers and followed it up two nights later with 26 points and 10 rebounds in the win over the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Quite simply, Griffin has been a superstar in the first two weeks of the season, something this team hasn’t had in at least a decade and maybe longer.

That brings me back to one of the most basic truths in sports: Fans love superstars. They buy their jerseys. They try to get them on their fantasy teams. They watch them when they’re on the floor. When Griffin is on the floor, people watch.

Defining a superstar is tricky. For some people, it’s like determining whether or not someone is a Hall of Famer. The simple answer is — if you have to ask, then they’re not a Hall of Famer. Is the same true of NBA superstars? If you have to ask, then they’re not a superstar. By my book, Griffin was a superstar, lost his superstar status due to injury and playoff losses, and is now angling to achieve that status again. If he’s able to do that, if he’s able to stay healthy and be a dominant force on a winning team, then he’ll be a magnet for the fans.

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Warriors exercise contract option on Damian Jones

The Warriors have exercised the fourth-year contract option on center Damian Jones, which is for the 2019-20 NBA season.

Jones, 23, has started all eight games for the Warriors this season, averaging 6.0 points on 77.8 percent from the field to go with 2.4 rebounds and 1.4 assists in 16.9 minutes per game. Originally selected by the Warriors with the 30th overall pick in the 2016 NBA Draft, Jones has appeared in 33 career regular season games in addition to eight postseason games as a member of both of Golden State’s previous two championship teams.

Under the terms of the NBA’s current collective bargaining agreement, the first two years of a first-round draft pick’s contract are guaranteed, while the third and fourth year of the contract are the team’s option.

On the Hornets and their playoff hopes

Here’s the Charlotte Observer with a look at the Hornets schedule for the rest of 2018, and what it could mean in regard to their playoff hopes:

For the Charlotte Hornets to break a two-season streak of missing the playoffs, the push can’t wait until March and April.

That’s the reality of a schedule front-loaded with home games.

Starting Tuesday night against the Miami Heat, the Hornets play 17 of their next 24 games at Spectrum Center. By the end of December, the Hornets will have already played 21 of their 41 home dates, including all four against the Cleveland Cavaliers and Atlanta Hawks, teams they should dominate if they expect to reach the post-season.

Last season, the Hornets were 21-20 at home, but 15-26 on the road, which sunk their playoff chances.

It’s common for the Hornets to play a disproportionate number of home games before New Year’s Day because typically Spectrum Center hosts a number of non-Hornets events in February and March. This season, the Spectrum Center hosts the NBA All-Star Weekend (Hornets will be out of town the week before to make way for arena preparations) and the CIAA and ACC tournaments.

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The Chicago Bulls have exercised the third-year option on Lauri Markkanen, and fourth-year options on guards Kris Dunn and Denzel Valentine.

By exercising their options, all players will be under contract with the Bulls for the 2019-20 season.

“According to the Chicago Tribune, “all three players, who are currently injured, are on their rookie scale contracts. Exercising the team option is a formality to keep them on those rookie scale deals for another season.”

Markkanen came to the Bulls in a Draft-night trade with the Minnesota Timberwolves on June 22, 2017, in which his rights were acquired, along with Kris Dunn and Zach LaVine, in exchange for Jimmy Butler and the rights to the 16th selection in the 2017 NBA Draft. Markkanen was selected to the All-Rookie First Team last season after playing in 68 games (68 starts) and averaging 15.2 points, 7.5 rebounds and 1.2 assists in 29.7 minutes per game. Markkanen set a Bulls’ franchise record for most 3-point field goals made in a rookie season (145) and was the fastest rookie in NBA history to reach 100 3-pointers made when he hit 101 through his first 41 games. Markkanen was also a participant in the 2018 Mtn Dew Kickstart Rising Stars Game and a finalist in the Taco Bell Skills Challenge during All-Star Weekend in Los Angeles.

The Bulls acquired Dunn in the Draft-night trade with the Minnesota Timberwolves on June 22, 2017. Last season, he played in 52 games (43 starts) and averaged 13.4 points, 4.3 rebounds, 6.0 assists and 2.00 steals in 29.3 minutes per game. His career averages are 7.6 points, 3.0 rebounds, 3.9 assists and 1.39 steals over 131 games. Dunn scored a career-high 32 points to go along with nine assists on Jan. 5, 2018, at Dallas, and he joined Michael Jordan as the only two players for the Bulls to have a game with at least 20 points, 12 assists, four steals and two blocks on Dec. 26, 2017, at Milwaukee. Dunn has played in one game this season on Oct. 22 at Dallas, and he scored nine points with four rebounds and seven assists.

Valentine was selected 14th overall by Chicago in the 2016 NBA Draft. He played in a team-high 77 games in 2017-18 (37 starts), and averaged 10.2 points, 5.1 rebounds and 3.2 assists in 27.2 minutes per game. He has averaged 8.0 points, 4.1 rebounds and 2.3 assists in his career over 134 games. Valentine’s 143 3-pointers made last season rank as the 11th-highest single-season total in Bulls history. On March 17, 2018, vs. Cleveland, he recorded career highs in points (34), field goals made (13) and 3-pointers made (eight).

The Warriors beat the Bulls in Chicago 149-124 on Monday. They had an incredible 92 points at the half to the Bulls’ 50. Klay Thompson scored 52 points and set an NBA record with 14 three-pointers made in a single game. His final stats for the evening: 18-of-29 from the field, 14-of-24 threes and 2-of-2 free throws, plus five rebounds, no assists. An epic performance that served further notice to the rest of the NBA just how scary and powerful this Warriors team is. As if they needed such a reminder.

NBC Sports Bay Area: “Thompson scored 22 points in the first quarter, 36 for the half and 52 points in a total of 27 minutes. He smashed Stephen Curry’s single-game record for 3-pointers in the process when he drained his 14th triple in the third quarter. Kevin Durant and Curry, so tremendous in holding up the offense while Thompson struggled, could take a breath, become gracious teammates and behold the white-hot offensive pyrotechnics of Thompson. “It was an unbelievable night,” Curry told reporters at United Center. “Everything was clicking from the jump. Klay starts off hot and we’ve been waiting for him to shoot like himself. Obviously, he did that.”

NBC Sports Bay Area: Thompson may not have broken the record without Curry’s encouragement. He said after the game that Curry told him at halftime the record was in sight, and that Thompson should “go get it.” “It’s great, it might not last for long though,” Thompson told NBC Sports Bay Area’s Kerith Burke after the game. “[Curry’s] a pretty good player, he might do it pretty soon.”

Mercury News: “Thompson tied for his second highest scoring performance of his eight-year NBA career, trailing only his career-high 60-point effort against Indiana on Dec. 5, 2016. Thompson also set an NBA record with most 3-pointers made in a game (14), eclipsing Stephen Curry’s 13 3-pointers he made against New Orleans on Nov. 7, 2016. The Bulls called timeout after Thompson made his record-breaking 3-pointer for a 113-69 lead with 4:53 left in the third quarter, prompting the Warriors’ bench to greet Thompson at halfcourt with chest bumps and high fives.”

Mavericks assign Ray Spalding to G League

The Dallas Mavericks have assigned forward Ray Spalding to the Texas Legends of the NBA G League.

Spalding (6-10, 215) made his NBA debut in the final minute of the Mavericks’ season opener at Phoenix on Oct. 17. It’s his lone regular-season appearance thus far in 2018-19.

Spalding was selected by Philadelphia with the 56th overall pick in this past year’s draft after a three-year college career at Louisville (2015-18). His draft rights were acquired by Dallas, along with the draft rights to the 60th overall pick Kostas Antetokounmpo, in exchange for the 54th overall selection Shake Milton.

As a junior in 2017-18, Spalding averaged 12.3 points (second on team), a team-high 8.7 rebounds, 1.3 assists, a team-best 1.5 steals, 1.7 blocks and 27.7 minutes in 36 games (34 starts) for the Cardinals. He ranked fourth in the ACC in field goal percentage (.543), sixth in rebounding (8.7 rpg), third in offensive rebounding (3.14 orpg), 10th in steals (1.5 spg) and ninth in blocks (1.7 bpg).

Thunder exercise option on Terrance Ferguson

The Oklahoma City Thunder exercised its third-year contract option on guard Terrance Ferguson.

Ferguson has appeared in 65 games (16 starts) with the Thunder, averaging 3.0 points and 0.8 rebounds in 12.9 minutes. The Tulsa native became the third player in NBA history to record 24 points and six three-pointers in his first career start on Jan. 3, 2018 at the Los Angeles Lakers.

Ferguson was originally selected 21st overall by the Thunder in the 2017 NBA Draft.

The Pistons are off to a nice start this NBA season, and deserve some attention. Blake Griffin is leading the team in scoring with 28.4 ppg, followed by Andre Drummond at 18.4 ppg and then Reggie Jackson at 16.8 ppg. Here’s the Detroit News with a look at Jackson and how his role has changed:

Role change for Pistons guard Reggie Jackson

Reggie Jackson stood in the corner, hands on his sides, watching as Blake Griffin dribbled and initiated the offense. Jackson waiting to see how Griffin would break down the defense, as the safety valve in case his defender cheated toward the paint to help on Griffin’s drive.

The defender dipped in just enough to create space for Griffin to find Jackson for a corner 3-pointer.

Swish.

It’s a new era for Jackson — and the rest of the Pistons, in the first year of Dwane Casey’s offense. No longer is the offense predicated on high-pick-and-roll plays with Jackson handling the ball and Griffin or Andre Drummond running to the rim, giving Jackson a choice.

The numbers are showing that the Pistons are benefiting from the switch, with Jackson operating more from the outside. More than half (55 percent) of his field-goal attempts are 3-pointers and he’s shooting 36.1 percent from beyond the arc, which would be a career high.

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It surprised no one that the Knicks starting lineup changed early in the season. It could happen again. There very well may be season-long changes as new head coach Dave Fizdale figures out what he’s working with on a team that is focused more on the future than the present. Here’s New York Newsday reporting on Knicks center Enes Kanter, who will now contribute scoring and rebounding as a reserve rather than a starter:

After sweating through the hard workout with Wallace loudly urging him on, the real lesson that Kanter seemed to take most to heart is how to avoid saying what’s really on your mind. Like Wallace, who made a game out of answering nearly any question with a refrain of, “Both teams played hard,” during his playing days, Kanter fell back time after time to, “I’m leading the second unit.”

The uncomfortable questions for Kanter and the equally uncomfortable answers he fidgeted through were regarding his role with the Knicks. An accomplished veteran, Kanter has found himself removed from the starting lineup for the time being as the Knicks have fallen to five straight losses and a 1-5 record.

With the season already steering toward the predictable outcome of a rebuilding year, Knicks first-year coach David Fizdale revamped the lineup before Friday’s meeting with the Golden State Warriors, pulling Kanter, Lance Thomas and Trey Burke from the lineup and replacing them with Mitchell Robinson, Damyean Dotson and Noah Vonleh.

“Yeah, he wants me to lead the second unit,” Kanter said, echoing the sentiment he relayed through pursed lips after the game.

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Coach Tyronn Lue fired by Cavs

Coach Tyronn Lue fired by Cavs

Cavaliers Head Coach Tyronn Lue was released today by the team. Associate Head Coach Larry Drew has been named interim head coach. The announcement was made from Cleveland Clinic Courts by Cavaliers General Manager Koby Altman.

“This was a very difficult decision. It is especially so, considering Coach Lue’s time with us over the last four years, including four straight trips to the NBA Finals,” said Altman. “We have respect and great admiration for Ty, not only as a coach, but a person. We thank him for the many ways he has contributed to our success, wish him the best and he will always be remembered for leading a very special Cavs team back against the odds to win the title in 2016. This is a different team equation, though, and one that we felt needed a different voice and approach that required this change.”

Coach Lue joined the Cavaliers coaching staff in June of 2014 as associate head coach. He was promoted to head coach in January of 2016, thus becoming the 20th head coach in franchise history. As head coach of the Cavaliers, he had a combined regular season record of 128-83 (.606) and a 41-20 (.672) mark in the playoffs.

Drew was named associate head coach for the Cleveland Cavaliers in September of 2016. He spent his first two seasons with the Cavaliers as an assistant coach (2014-2016), including the 2015-16 campaign when Cleveland won the NBA championship.

Before his arrival in Cleveland, Drew served as the head coach of the Milwaukee Bucks in 2013-14. Prior to that, he was head coach of the Atlanta Hawks from 2010 through 2013, where he compiled a 128-102 (.557) overall record and led the Hawks to the postseason in each of his three campaigns on the bench.

Jazz guard Raul Neto remains out

Jazz guard Raul Neto remains out

Utah Jazz guard Raul Neto (right hamstring injury) was reevaluated on Thursday by the Utah Jazz medical staff and is showing progress to make a return but remains out. He will be reevaluated in two weeks.

Entering his fourth season with the Jazz, the guard appeared in 41 games last year, owning averages of 4.5 points, 1.8 assists and 1.2 rebounds in 12.1 minutes per contest, also seeing action in eight postseason games.

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