Spurs hire Brent Barry, add others to staff

The San Antonio Spurs have announced multiple additions and promotions to the basketball operations staff. Brent Barry joins the organization as vice president of basketball operations, while Wayne Diesel comes to the team as director of player care. Adam Glessner comes on as director of basketball intelligence, Cory Johnson is now the team equipment and travel manager and Massimo Simonetta comes to the Silver and Black as sports therapist.

In addition, the following members of the Spurs basketball operations department have received promotions: Willis Hall has been elevated to video coordinator and Cam Hodges advances to player development assistant. AJ Meyer is now coaching analytics coordinator, while Paul West has been promoted to assistant athletic trainer and recovery coordinator.

Barry returns to the Spurs organization after playing four seasons in Silver and Black from 2004-08, where he helped the Spurs to two titles in 2005 and 2007. After a 14-year NBA career, he joined the Turner Sports network as an analyst in 2010. Barry covered the NBA for the league’s network on NBA TV and eventually moved to providing color analysis for TNT during the regular season and playoffs. He was also tapped as a host for the Players Only telecasts during the regular season, and hosted All-Star Saturday at the 2018 NBA All-Star weekend. Barry also played for the Los Angeles Clippers, Miami Heat, Chicago Bulls, Seattle SuperSonics and Houston Rockets, where he finished his playing career in 2009. Barry ranks 34th all-time in three-pointers made (1,395) and 23rd all-time in three-point percentage (.405). He holds career averages of 9.2 points, 3.2 assists and 3.0 rebounds in 912 NBA contests. Barry graduated from Oregon State University with a degree in sociology.

Monty Williams had taken a leave from coaching due to a personal tragedy. But he’s ready to return to the job, reports the Philadelphia Inquirer/PhillyNews.com:

Monty Williams reportedly ready to resume coaching

Monty Williams has spent nearly his entire life in basketball, as a player or a coach, but tragedy struck a little over two years ago and it wasn’t clear when he would return to the game.

“It’s a great time for me to get back to full-time coaching. It was Brett [Brown], it was the team. I’ve played here before so I kind of know the culture of the city,” Williams said Monday night at Brown’s annual coaching clinic. “Most importantly, my family was ready for me to get back into coaching.”

In February 2016, when Williams was an associate head coach with the Oklahoma City Thunder, less than a year removed from his head coaching position with the New Orleans Pelicans, his wife, Ingrid, died from injuries she suffered in a car accident. She was 44.

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Steve Mills speaks on perception of Knicks

Are players outside of New York thinking differently about the Knicks? Here’s ESPN.com reporting what top team brass had to say about it:

New York Knicks team president Steve Mills believes the perception of the club among NBA players has changed recently.

“In our circles that we travel and the people that we talk to, we know that there is a change in how people perceive us,” Mills said at an event for fans on Monday night. “… We know that the players are talking about New York as a place that, ‘Things are different there now.’ If we do all the things that we’re supposed to do over the course of the year, we’ll be in a good place [to attract free agents].”

The Knicks plan to have enough cap space to attract at least one max free agent in the summer of 2019. Players expected to test free agency next summer include Kyrie Irving, Kevin Durant, Jimmy Butler, Kawhi Leonard and Kemba Walker.

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Clippers hire writer Lee Jenkins

Here’s the Daily Breeze reporting on the news that the Clippers have hired Lee Jenkins, who for years has been writing for Sports Illustrated:

Clippers hire writer Lee Jenkins

Lee Jenkins, Sports Illustrated’s lead NBA writer for the past eight years, has agreed to join the Clippers’ front office, according to the team, which confirmed the hiring in a news release Monday night. Jenkins will serve as the franchise’s executive director of research and identity; he’ll work with President Lawrence Frank and General Manager Michael Winger.

In the new position – the first of its kind for any NBA team, according to the Clippers – Jenkins will use his extensive reporting background and unique interviewing style to contribute to the franchise’s amateur and professional scouting infrastructure and to “enhance the Clipper experience.”

“Lee has spent his career profiling elite athletes, including most of the top players in the NBA,” Frank said in the release. “Given Lee’s talent, knowledge, and credibility, we hope to blend his approach with our existing evaluation systems and highlight the personalities of our players. He is the NBA’s preeminent storyteller and adding him to the team is a reflection of Steve’s commitment to innovation and building a best-in-class organization.”

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Open tryouts are always fascinating, in that anybody with a dream and hopefully some actual talent can head to an event and get a shot at making their dreams come true. Of course, in pro sports, the vast, vast, vast majority of players hoping to play the game of their lives when it matters most will fall short. Still, an open tryout for a pro team is a fun event. Here’s NBC Sports Washington reporting on the Wizards’ G League affiliate, the Capital City Go-Go:

These were basketball players, young and old by the sport’s standards, all waiting for their chance to try out for the Wizards’ new G-League affiliate, the Capital City Go-Go.

G-League teams are permitted to hold local tryouts and this was the first one in the history of the inaugural franchise.

The Wizards hosted over 100 players total across two sessions, one in the morning and one in the afternoon. They ran them through shooting drills, taught them two plays and then let them go in 5-on-5 scrimmages spread out between three courts; one in the main arena and the other two in the back of the building.

Just about everyone from the Wizards front office was in attendance. Team president Ernie Grunfeld, senior vice president of basketball operations Tommy Sheppard and others looked on as hoopers from all walks of life played what were essentially pickup games, one after another.

The Go-Go are allowed to keep up to four players from the event. Those four would merely get invites to the team’s training camp, which begins in October. The odds for these players to even get that far are minuscule and from there they get no guarantees for a roster spot.

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Milwaukee Bucks play-by-play announcer Jim Paschke, who is entering his 33rd season calling Bucks games, was named the recipient of the NBA’s Todd Harris Spirit Award at the annual NBA Broadcast Meeting on Sept. 14 in New York. The Todd Harris Spirit Award, named in honor of longtime NBA executive Todd Harris, recognizes an NBA broadcaster or executive who is the ultimate team player and inspires people to make every day brighter.

“Jim Paschke is the perfect recipient of the Todd Harris Spirit Award, exemplifying the same dedication and spirit that Todd showed during his life,” said NBA Senior Vice President, Broadcast Schedule Management, Tom Carelli. “As one of the longest tenured announcers in the NBA today, Jim has brought a unique perspective to our game and to our fans throughout his 33 years as the play-by-play voice for the Milwaukee Bucks. He has also been a trusted advisor and friend to the NBA, its teams and its broadcasters.”

“This is such a well-deserved honor for Jim,” said Bucks President Peter Feigin. “Jim is a pro’s pro and we are fortunate to have such a terrific broadcaster and person with the Bucks organization. The team congratulates Jim on this meaningful recognition.”

Paschke is the second-ever recipient of the Todd Harris Spirit Award after the inaugural award was given to Travis Henderson of the Utah Jazz. In addition to broadcasting Bucks game on FOX Sports Wisconsin, Paschke is the Bucks Broadcast Director and works year-round on telecasts, television projects and other team broadcast ventures while regularly contributing video content to Bucks.com. Paschke is also a featured speaker in the community, addressing various civic groups and school assemblies throughout the year, and is a long-time supporter of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.

The 2018-19 season will be Paschke’s 33rd season as the television “Voice of the Bucks” and 23rd as Broadcast Director for the team.

NBA coach Jeff Bzdelik to retire

Jeff Bzdelik, a longtime coach who is currently with the Houston Rockets, is reporting hanging up his clipboard and calling it a career. Here’s the Houston Chronicle reporting:

Bzdelik, 65, had been weighing whether to return for a third season on Mike D’Antoni’s staff throughout the summer, reaching his decision this weekend, an individual with knowledge of the decision said. He had been uncertain about taking on the demands and time away from family of another season.

The Rockets will shift his responsibilities throughout the coaching staff, with assistant Roy Rogers likely to lead the defense. Former Vipers coach Matt Brase had already been added to D’Antoni’s staff.

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Timberwolves center Justin Patton out after foot injury

Minnesota Timberwolves center Justin Patton will be sidelined indefinitely after suffering an injury to his right foot during a recent workout. Surgery will be scheduled for the near future. Further updates to his progress will be issued when appropriate.

Patton, 6-11, played in one game for Minnesota in 2017-18, totaling two points and one steal in just under four minutes of action on April 1, 2018 vs. Utah. Patton appeared in 38 games for the Iowa Wolves, Minnesota’s G League affiliate, starting 28 of those and averaging 12.7 points on 47.5% shooting from the field. He also averaged 5.4 rebounds and 1.4 blocks in 23.1 minutes a game.

The Wolves acquired the draft rights to Patton (selected 16th overall in the 2017 NBA Draft), along with Jimmy Butler, on June 22, 2017 from the Chicago Bulls in exchange for Zach LaVine, Kris Dunn and the draft rights to Lauri Markkanen, the 7th overall selection in the 2017 NBA Draft.

Dwyane Wade will return for another season

Dwyane Wade isn’t hanging up his sneakers yet. The future Hall of Famer has announced that he’ll play one more NBA season, and will stick with the Miami Heat.

Wade for weeks has stated openly that if he were to return for another NBA season, it would only be for Miami.

Here’s the Miami Herald on Wade’s decision:

This will help the Heat. After all, Wade was the only Heat player to finish last season’s five-game playoff run with a positive plus-minus while leading the team to its only playoff victory in Game 2 in Philadelphia with 28 points in 26 minutes.

But at 36 years old, how much will Wade really help the Heat this season?

“This decision is bigger than the game of basketball,” Wade said in the video posted Sunday night. “This decision don’t have nothing to do with the talent I have in my body. Yeah, I’m not as quick as I used to be. Yeah, I don’t jump as high as I used to. Yeah, I don’t. Yeah, I don’t. Yeah, I don’t.

“But there are things in this game that I have that I can write a book on, that I can still do and I can still accomplish with the right organization, with the right individuals, with the right coach and in the right situation.”

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The Heat won’t be a contender this season, but they’re a solid team, and it’ll be cool to see fans get to applaud D-Wade on his retirement tour.

At the same time, the Heat’s primary need is to figure out their future. So this won’t be an all-about-Wade type of season the way Kobe Bryant’s final Laker season was all about him. The Heat will compete. Wade will contribute to that. And there will be lots of standing ovations in the process.

The Timberwolves are a fascinating team right now. They won a solid but unspectacular 47 games last season, squeezing into the playoffs for a quick stint in the postseason. On paper, they should certainly keep improving. They boast a quality starting lineup, and several of their best players are young and presumably still improving. But Jimmy Butler’s future with the team will be a looming story throughout the next year — or until something happens to put an end to the speculation. Here’s the St Paul Pioneer Press reporting:

Timberwolves all-star guard Jimmy Butler and coach Tom Thibodeau will meet early this week to discuss the upcoming season and thoughts on the team, a source confirmed Saturday.

The Athletic was the first to report the meeting.

But there’s no reason to believe this is some type of make-or-break moment that will determine Butler’s future in Minnesota. While nothing can ever be ruled out, this meeting isn’t expected to deliver anything of major consequence.

There’s been a lot of drama surrounding the Timberwolves this offseason — some of which should subside once training camp starts in nine days. Much of it has involved Butler.

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Here’s the Minneapolis Star Tribune with a Timberwolves injury report that will presumably be confirmed by the team soon:

After two surgeries on his left foot cost him two summer-league and one training camp experiences, Timberwolves center Justin Patton now has broken his right foot in pre-camp workouts.

Patton will undergo surgery to repair that right foot in the coming days, a source with knowledge of the injury said.

Training camp begins Sept. 25, and Wolves coach Tom Thibodeau had been hopeful that Patton would be cleared for contact practice by then.

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The latest on Kawhi Leonard

Here’s the Toronto Sun reporting on new Raptors addition Kawhi Leonard, whose health is of interest not just to Toronto but to the entire NBA world:

Leonard, a former NBA Finals MVP and two-time defensive player of the year, was only able to suit up for nine games in his final season in Texas, but by all accounts has looked superb in summer workouts.

Ujiri would not commit to Leonard being ready to go full steam ahead by the time training camp opens in just over a week, but he sounded encouraged.

“Everything you hear (about his workouts) is unbelievable. He’s very well, no verdict has been made, but he’s ramping it up,” Ujiri told Wojnarowski, adding that Leonard’s status will depend on both what he and the medical staff say.

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On Mavs guard-forward Wesley Matthews

The Mavs won just 24 games last season. But then they added veteran center DeAndre Jordan and drafted a very experienced rookie in Luka Doncic. Interesting moves for a team that could have headed towards a total rebuild. The core of the team right now includes Dennis Smith Jr, Wesley Matthews, Harrison Barnes, Jordan, and if he pans out, Doncic. And old Dirk Nowitzki, riding out his legendary career. As for Matthews, here’s the Dallas Morning News examining his present and possible future:

The iron man reputation may have caught up with Matthews a little last season. But he’s still expected to be a 30-minute-plus heavy lifter. His job as a spot-up 3-point maker won’t change. But the intriguing thing about this season is that the combination of him fronting perimeter scorers with DeAndre Jordan waiting to protect the rim should only make the Mavericks’ defense, which wasn’t terrible last season, even stronger. Another consideration for this season: Matthews is certain to be a source of periodic trade speculation because of his expiring contract and the fact that he can shoot the ball. Those are two commodities that contending teams can always use.

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Heat await Dwyane Wade decision

Here’s the Miami Herald with the latest on Dwyane Wade, who may retire, or may play another season with the Heat. There’s no reason to think he’ll have a big impact on their win-loss total this season, but it would still be nice to see him head out there for another season before calling it a career:

With the Sept. 25 start of training camp inching closer, the Miami Heat still has one open spot on its 20-man preseason roster.

It will remain open as Dwyane Wade decides whether to retire or return for a 16th NBA season. And on Thursday night, Wade made it clear that he still hasn’t made up his mind.

“I wish I had that answer for you. I don’t have it today,” Wade said alongside Heat forward Udonis Haslem during an appearance to celebrate their new restaurant, 800 Degrees Woodfired Kitchen, in Aventura that’s scheduled to open Sept. 20.

Wade does know if he decides to continue his playing career, it will be with the Heat.

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Jabari Bird facing serious legal situation

Here’s the Boston Herald with the latest on new Celtics guard Jabari Bird, who is in a serious legal situation right now:

The Celtics aren’t trifling with diplomatic niceties and cagey legalese in their handling of the litany of charges being brought against reserve guard Jabari Bird.

“Most importantly, our thoughts are with the victim of this incident,” the team said in a statement released yesterday. “The Celtics organization deplores domestic violence of any kind, and we are deeply disturbed by the allegations against Jabari Bird.”

This should not be read as a judgment against Bird, a 24-year-old California native who appeared in 13 games with the Celtics last season and this past July signed a two-year, $3 million contract with the team. The courts, after all, will rule on innocence or guilt. Bird was arraigned in Brighton District Court yesterday following a weekend arrest in which he was charged with domestic assault, strangulation and kidnapping stemming from an alleged incident involving a 20-year-old woman.

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Bucks and WTMJ Radio expand partnership

The Milwaukee Bucks and WTMJ Radio have expanded their long-time partnership, with WTMJ continuing as the radio home of the team. Bucks games this upcoming season will air on 620 AM and 103.3 FM with Ted Davis and Dennis Krause calling the action. WTMJ Radio will remain the flagship station of the statewide BMO Harris Bucks Radio Network.

As part of the new agreement, Bucks games that will not air on 620 AM or 103.3 FM because of conflicts will now air on 94.5 FM WKTI, a partner of WTMJ Radio. New features of the agreement include a one-hour Bucks Weekly Show and a half-hour Coach’s Show that will air on WTMJ Radio each week during the season.

“WTMJ Radio has been a terrific home for Bucks games for 50 years, and we’re excited to extend our relationship as we enter our first season at Fiserv Forum,” said Bucks President Peter Feigin. “This is a great time for the Bucks and our fans, and we are excited to enhance our presence on WTMJ Radio with weekly Bucks shows.”

“The Bucks and WTMJ are proud partners,” said Tom Langmyer, vice president and general manager of WTMJ and WKTI and vice president, news/talk/sports for The E.W. Scripps Company (NASDAQ: SSP). “We’re pleased to grow the partnership as the Bucks move into the beautiful new Fiserv Forum - and excited for WTMJ Radio as it segues from Scripps to Craig Karmazin’s Good Karma Brands.”

As he enters his 40th season as the “Voice of the Clippers,” legendary broadcaster Ralph Lawler has announced his plan to retire after the 2018-19 NBA season. Over the course of his tenure, his commentary has captivated fans across the sports world, creating a legacy that will last far beyond his final season.

“My wife Jo and I have grappled with this decision annually for 15 years. I now realize that I have spent half of my 80 years as a part of this team. The Clippers are a big part of my life’s DNA,” said Lawler. “Yet, it is important that we have some ‘life after basketball.’ The current ownership and management team has been so supportive, and we are forever grateful for our years with the Clippers. I cannot express how much I appreciate the fans. I am looking forward to thanking as many of them as possible in person during this final season.”

Lawler, 80, joined the then San Diego Clippers in the team’s first year in California, 1978, where he spent six years before moving with the Clippers to Los Angeles. Since, he has called more than 3,100 games. Lawler has distinguished himself as one of the broadcasting industry’s elite, as he is one of a very few announcers who has called games in each of the four major U.S. Sports Leagues: NFL (Chargers), MLB (Phillies), NHL (Flyers) and NBA (Clippers and 76ers).

“Ralph Lawler isn’t just the voice of the team, he has been the heart and soul of the Clippers,” said Clippers Chairman Steve Ballmer. “Ralph has lived every single moment with this team and been an essential connection between us and our fans, who rightfully adore him. We will treasure every moment with Ralph and his wife Jo this season, and miss him incredibly next year. I’m looking forward to celebrating Ralph and his legacy, and want to sincerely thank him for everything that he has done for and meant to this team. His will be large shoes to fill.”

Lawler’s commitment to his craft has been recognized with a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, three Emmys, a Telly Award and inductions into the Southern California Sports Broadcasters Hall of Fame and the California Sports Hall of Fame.

Heat exercise contract options on Bam Adebayo

The Miami Heat yesterday exercised their third-year team option on Bam Adebayo.

Adebayo, who was selected in the first round (14th overall) by the HEAT in the 2017 NBA Draft, appeared in 69 games (19 starts) last season with Miami and averaged 6.9 points, 5.5 rebounds, 1.5 assists and 19.8 minutes while shooting 51.2 percent from the field. Among NBA rookies last season, he ranked fourth in field goal percentage, sixth in rebounds per game and ninth in blocks per game as his 41 blocks ranked fourth on the HEAT’s all-time rookie list.

During the season, Adebayo posted a 16-point, 15-rebound double-double while blocking five shots on January 9 at Toronto, becoming just the second rookie in NBA history to post at least those numbers off the bench (since blocks became a stat in 1973-74) and just the fourth HEAT player ever to post a 16-point, 15-rebound, 5-block game, joining Rony Seikaly, Alonzo Mourning and Hassan Whiteside. In that same game, he helped Miami out-rebound the Raptors by a +27 margin (64-37), tying for the fifth-highest rebound margin in team history. He started last season with a 13-point, 13-rebound double-double in just his fourth NBA game on October 30 vs. Minnesota, marking as the fifth-fastest HEAT player to post a double-double in franchise history. His 10 offensive boards in the contest are the most by a rookie in team history during a single-game and tied for the sixth-most by a rookie in the NBA over the last 17 years. Additionally, he grabbed 16 rebounds on March 14 at Sacramento, tying the second-most by a rookie in team history and he shot a perfect 7-of-7 from the field on November 28 at Cleveland, becoming the only rookie in HEAT history to not miss a shot with at least that many attempts as he was also a perfect 5-of-5 from the line in the contest, marking just the second time in franchise history a HEAT player was perfect from the field and the charity stripe with a minimum of five attempts each. The former Wildcat appeared in 38 games (all starts) as a freshman at Kentucky and averaged 13.0 points, 8.0 rebounds, 1.50 blocks and 30.1 minutes while shooting 59.9 percent from the field. He was selected to the All-SEC Second Team and the All-SEC All-Tournament Team after helping the Wildcats win the SEC Championship.

Former Spurs assistant Don Newman dies

Here’s the San Antonio Express News with some sad news on a former Spurs assistant:

Don Newman, an assistant coach who served on the staff of a pair of Spurs championship teams, has died after a battle with cancer. He was 60.

Newman was a member of coach Gregg Popovich’s staff from 2004-2012, helping the Spurs win titles in 2005 and 2007.

He left the Spurs in 2012 to become the lead assistant under Randy Wittman in Washington, where he remained until 2016.

Newman died Tuesday. Funeral services are pending.

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Grizzlies making use of G League affiliate

Here’s the Memphis Commercial Appeal reporting on the Grizzlies and the advantages that come with having their own G League team. Of course, most NBA teams have this luxury now. But different teams are using their G League affiliates to different extents. As for the Grizzlies:

Additionally, the close-proximity model seen with the Grizzlies and the Hustle is becoming the norm. Grizzlies officials have lauded the geographical improvement. The Atlanta Hawks purchased the Erie BayHawks last year, and will move the team from Pennsylvania to College Park in Atlanta beginning next season. The Kings moved their affiliate to nearby Stockton, California, the Magic have a team in Lakeland, Florida, and the Clippers now have a G-League team in Ontario, less than an hour from Staples Center.

Amid a disappointing last season, the Grizzlies were able to make expedited use of two-way players Kobi Simmons and Myke Henry because of the Hustle’s location. Simmons ended up playing more games for the Grizzlies than the Hustle. All of this certainly bodes well for new two-way signing Yuta Watanabe, and it could potentially be helpful for other players.

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