Rockets maintain relationships in China

Here’s the Houston Chronicle Blog reporting on the Rockets:

Rockets CEO Tad Brown, former player Clyde Drexler and point guard Pat Beverley just returned from a trip to China where they met with some of the Rockets’ business partners and interacted with the fan base.

“It’s always great to go to China,” Brown said. “We are the most popular NBA team in China by a longshot and its great to reconnect with the fan base every year and see the passion they have for the Rockets.”

It was a quick trip — the three left Friday and returned Tuesday morning. In the short amount of time, they were able to make time for a handful of events and appearances to go along with the business meetings.

Brown said that Beverley was a hit among the fans.

miami heat

The Miami HEAT announced today several front office hirings, including Keith Smart as Assistant Coach, Chris Quinn as Assistant Coach/Player Development, Brandon Gilliam as Assistant Trainer/Director of Rehabilitation, Wes Brown as Assistant Trainer and Eric Foran as Assistant Strength & Conditioning Coach.

Smart will bring over 25 years of professional basketball experience as a player and coach to the HEAT bench serving as Assistant Coach. His duties will include assisting in the areas of game management. He comes to Miami after serving as head coach for three different NBA franchises, including Sacramento, Golden State and Cleveland.

Quinn, who played three and a half seasons with the HEAT for both Pat Riley and Erik Spoelstra, will join Spoelstra’s staff as an Assistant Coach/Player Development. The six-year NBA veteran will assist Miami in the areas of player development and will also have responsibilities with the HEAT’s NBA Development League team, the Sioux Falls Skyforce. Quinn spent last season as Director of Player Development at Northwestern University.

Gilliam has been named Assistant Trainer/Director of Rehabilitation after spending the last eight years owning his own private practice that specialized in concierge physical training for entertainers and athletes. In addition to his duties as assistant trainer, Gilliam will oversee all player rehabilitation programs as he will work with each player individually during the recovery process.

Brown has been named Assistant Trainer after spending the last seven years at the University of Miami as associate athletic trainer. His duties will include managing the day-to-day health of HEAT players during the regular season, postseason and off-season. Brown is a certified Performance Enhancement Specialist, certified Corrective Exercise specialist, certified Kinesio Taping Practitioner and a level 2 Fascial Stretch Therapist.

Foran, who spent the last two seasons with the HEAT as a strength & conditioning intern, has been named Assistant Strength & Conditioning Coach. He is a certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist and a certified USA Weightlifting Sports Performance Coach. A University of Florida graduate and son of HEAT Assistant Coach/Strength & Conditioning Bill Foran, Eric was a four-year letter winner and an All-SEC pole vaulter on the track and field team that won two national championships during his tenure.

Additionally, the HEAT also named David Fizdale to Assistant Head Coach, Juwan Howard to Assistant Coach, Dan Craig to Assistant Coach/Director of Player Development and Octavio De La Grana to Player Development Coach/Director of Minor League Operations.

Knicks sign Orlando Sanchez

Knicks

New York Knicks President Phil Jackson announced today that the team has signed forward Orlando Sanchez.

We assume this is a non-guaranteed deal that merely brings Sanchez to training camp for a chance to earn a regular season contract.

Sanchez, 6-9, 230-pounds, averaged 7.4 points, on 51.1-percent shooting, 5.6 rebounds and 1.4 rebounds over 22.3 minutes in 32 games (18 starts) for St. John’s University last season. The Nagua, Dominican Republic-native previously played two seasons at Monroe College (NY) and for the Dominican national team.

Here’s the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reporting on one of the most popular Hawks of all time:

atlanta hawks

Dominique Wilkins will get his statue.

The Basketball Hall of Famer and Hawks legend will have a statue of his likeness erected outside Philips Arena next year.

A group has contracted Hall of Fame sculptor Brian Hanlon to do the art work many believe long over due. Hanlon worked with Wilkins when he created the bust for his 2006 enshrinement. The sculpture will be unveiled on March 6, the day the Hawks host LeBron James and the Cavaliers.

“The first thing that comes to mind is that it immortalizes you,” Wilkins told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution Tuesday. “There is no better feeling in the world to know that you will be recognized for the rest of your life and even after you are gone it’s still going to be there.”

Brandon Jennings bulked up this summer

Here’s the Detroit News reporting on Pistons point guard Brandon Jennings:

Brandon Jennings aims to raise his game

Brandon Jennings emerged from the informal workouts at The Palace practice facility, looking somewhat similar to the figure who departed to California after last season’s disappointing, playoff-less finish.

Playful swagger? Check.

Rare introspection? Check

Twenty-five extra pounds? Check…wait, that wasn’t here last season

“I’m about 185, 190 on my good days,” said Jennings, noticeably thicker but still wiry.

Training camp doesn’t begin until the first day of October but Jennings and his other 14 teammates have all been at The Palace for a few weeks, per new coach/president Stan Van Gundy’s request.

“Usually guys come in and you don’t see them until media day,” Jennings said. “It’s good, we’ve been together for three weeks strong, preparing for the season.”

Timberwolves sign second round draft pick Glenn Robinson III

The Minnesota Timberwolves today announced the team has signed 2014 second round draft pick Glenn Robinson III. Robinson III, a 6-6 forward from Michigan, was selected 40th overall in this year’s draft.

Robinson III played for the Wolves entry in the 2014 NBA Summer League in Las Vegas, averaging 7.7 points and 3.0 rebounds per game in six games (four starts). His best performance came in the summer league finale, totaling 17 points on 6-of-13 shooting (2-of-6 from three-point range).

Robinson III started all 76 games in his Michigan career, averaging 12.0 points on 52.5% shooting and 4.9 rebounds per game in his two-year career. He was a two-time honorable mention All-Big Ten selection by the media, leading the Wolverines to appearances in the National Title game and Elite Eight in his two season at Michigan. Robinson III is the son of former NBA forward Glenn Robinson Jr., who was the first overall pick in the 1994 NBA Draft by the Milwaukee Bucks.

Brooklyn Nets sign Hamady Ndiaye

Nets

The Brooklyn Nets have signed free agent center Hamady Ndiaye, Nets General Manager Billy King announced today.

Ndiaye most recently played for Senegal’s national team in the 2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup and spent part of the 2013-14 season with the Sacramento Kings. In 14 games with Sacramento, Ndiaye totaled six points, 18 rebounds and four blocks in 74 minutes of play. Ndiaye also played two games last season with the NBA Development League’s Reno Bighorns on assignment from the Kings, and after being waived by Sacramento in January, the 7’0” center spent 15 games with the D-League’s Delaware 87ers.

Selected out of Rutgers with the 56th overall pick in the 2010 NBA Draft by the Minnesota Timberwolves, Ndiaye was traded to the Washington Wizards on draft night. He played in 16 games for the Wizards in his rookie season in 2010-11, averaging 0.9 points, 0.4 rebounds and 0.3 blocks in 5.0 minutes per game. Ndiaye also appeared in three games for Washington during the 2011-12 season. In 33 career NBA games, Ndiaye has averaged 0.6 points, 0.8 rebounds and 0.3 blocks in 4.8 minutes per game. Over the course of his professional career, Ndiaye has also played in the NBA D-League with the Dakota Wizards (2010-11), Iowa Energy (2011-12) and Maine Red Claws (2011-12), as well as overseas with Guangzhou Liu Sui Whampoa of China’s National Basketball League (2012) and Tianjin Ronggang of the Chinese Basketball Association (2012-13).

Here’s Reuters, via the Toronto Sun, reporting that Dwight Howard, or whoever drives his car, makes questionable decisions on the road:

dwight howard

The Florida driver’s licence of Houston Rockets center Dwight Howard has been suspended for his failure to pay a fine for running a red light, court records show, but the team said on Tuesday he was playing basketball in Texas the day of the alleged infraction.

According to the court records, Howard’s licence had been suspended since at least Aug. 15 for his nonpayment of a $285 fine for running a red light in Winter Park, Fla., on April 14.

“It couldn’t have possibly been him,” said Houston Rockets spokeswoman Tracey Hughes, who told Reuters that Howard and the Rockets were playing the San Antonio Spurs in Houston on that date. “Dwight played 31 minutes. He scored 20 points and 17 rebounds.”

UPDATE: According to TMZ Sports, “Dwight Howard might be color blind — ’cause officials in Florida say he ran 10 RED LIGHTS in 2-and-a-half years — and now his license has been suspended.”

Lakers assistant coaching staff announced

Los Angeles Lakers General Manager Mitch Kupchak announced today that Paul Pressey, Jim Eyen and Mark Madsen will serve as assistant coaches on Byron Scott’s staff.

Additionally, it was announced that Clay Moser (assistant coach/head advance NBA scout), Larry Lewis (assistant coach/director of player development), Thomas Scott (assistant coach/player development), Tom Bialaszewski (video coordinator/coach), and J.J. Outlaw (video coordinator/player development) will round out Scott’s staff.

“I’m excited to have completed my staff with a group of individuals who each possess unique skills, but all share my vision for the future of this team,” said Scott. “Paul is a great basketball mind with vast experience and someone with whom I have worked before, while Jim returns to the Laker family with a proven track record and a tremendous amount of respect around the league. Thomas has worked very hard through the ranks of the video department, player development and the NBA Development League to earn this position. I’m delighted to retain Mark, Clay, Larry, Tom and J.J., who are all highly qualified and have worked tirelessly with our players throughout the summer to prepare for next season. I can say with certainty that our staff is dedicated to upholding the winning culture and tradition of the Los Angeles Lakers.”

Pressey, who brings 31 seasons of NBA experience as a coach and player, previously worked with Scott as an assistant coach for the Cleveland Cavaliers from 2010-13, and the New Orleans Hornets for three seasons from 2007-10. Prior to New Orleans, he was an assistant coach with the Celtics as a member of Doc Rivers’ staff from 2004-06 and served as advance scout for Boston during the 2006-07 season. Pressey also spent time with the Orlando Magic (2000-04), San Antonio Spurs (1994-2000), and Golden State Warriors (1992-94) as an assistant coach, including helping the Spurs win their first-ever NBA Championship in 1999. He was originally named an assistant coach for the Golden State Warriors prior to the 1992-93 season, but injuries forced him back into uniform, where he appeared in 18 games.

The Richmond, VA native was drafted 20th overall by the Milwaukee Bucks in the 1982 NBA Draft and played the first eight of his 11 NBA seasons in Milwaukee, followed by stops in San Antonio (1990-92) and Golden State (1992-93). In 724 career games (420 starts), Pressey, the father of Celtics guard Phil Pressey, averaged 10.6 points, 5.1 assists, and 3.9 rebounds per game while shooting 48.5% from the field. The 6’5’’ guard/forward was selected to the NBA All-Defensive First Team during both the 1984-85 and 1985-86 seasons and All-Defensive Second Team in 1986-87.

Eyen originally worked with the Lakers as an assistant coach to Pat Riley during the 1989-90 season and remained with the team from 1990-92 as an assistant coach to Mike Dunleavy, helping Los Angeles to the NBA Finals in 1991. In an assistant coaching capacity, he followed Dunleavy to Milwaukee from 1992-96, then to Portland from 1997-2001, and finally back to the Clippers (the franchise with which he began his NBA journey as an assistant coach in 1988-89) as lead assistant from 2003-09. In between coaching stints, Eyen remained in the NBA, spending the 1996-97 season as a pro and advance scout for the Knicks and the 2002-03 campaign as a college scout, also for New York.

Most recently, the University of California at Santa Barbara alumnus and letter-winner was an assistant coach with the Sacramento Kings for four seasons from 2009-13, totaling 24 seasons of NBA experience as a coach and scout, and 31 years of combined coaching experience at the professional, collegiate (UCSB and Santa Barbara City College), and high school (Dos Pueblos in Goleta, CA) levels. He has also served as a consultant for professional clubs in the Netherlands, Germany and Japan, in addition to working with the Japanese National Team in 1996.

Scott, Byron’s eldest son, brings a combined nine seasons of experience as an assistant coach and video coordinator at the NBA and NBA D-League levels to his position. Last season, he served as an assistant coach with the Western Division Champion Los Angeles D-Fenders, the NBA D-League affiliate of the Lakers. Working closely with the parent club, Scott had a variety of duties, including aiding the development of current Lakers players Xavier Henry and Ryan Kelly while on assignment.

His two prior seasons were spent as Alex Jensen’s lead assistant for the Cleveland Cavaliers’ NBA D-League affiliate, the Canton Charge, which saw the team claim back-to-back playoff appearances, the 2013 East Division title, and Jensen (now an assistant coach with the Utah Jazz) win 2013 NBA D-League Coach of the Year. Scott spent the 2010-11 campaign as a player development/video coach for the Cleveland Cavaliers, preceded by four seasons (2006-10) served as assistant video coordinator for the New Orleans Hornets.

In additional moves, the basketball operations department announced the promotion of Rondre Jackson to director of player development and the hiring of Jordan Wilkes as basketball operations assistant.

The Sacramento Kings announced today that the #16 jersey of three-time NBA All-Star and NBA Champion Peja Stojakovic will be retired on December 16, when the Kings host the Oklahoma City Thunder at Sleep Train Arena. During his eight seasons in Sacramento, the fan-favorite small forward played more games for the Kings than any player during the Sacramento era and had an immeasurable impact on the community both on and off the court.

“Peja Stojakovic was instrumental in putting Sacramento on the map on a global scale,” said Kings Owner Vivek Ranadivé. “As one of only a select group of Serbian players in the NBA, Peja helped carve out a place for basketball players from all over the world. Recognizing his leadership will be a special moment for fans and the entire Kings organization, as well as a great reminder of the kind of success we are building in Sacramento.”

The Kings drafted Serbia-born Stojakovic in the first-round (14th overall) of the 1996 NBA Draft. In addition to leading the Kings in games played during the Sacramento-era, Stojakovic ranks first in Kings franchise history (1948-current) in three-pointers made (1,070) and attempted (2,687), and in free throw percentage (.893). He’s also ranked second on the Kings all-time scoring list with 9,498 points scored, third in field goals made (3,352) and attempted (7,269), and fifth in steals (543).

“My time in Sacramento was the best years of my career and truly some of the best years of my life,” said Stojakovic. “I am proud of what we built in Sacramento and the connection we made with the fans and the community. Kings fans are some of the best fans in the world, and it was an honor to play for them. I want to thank Vivek and the entire Kings family for welcoming me back for this celebration, and I look forward to following the exciting times ahead for the Sacramento Kings.”

Stojakovic’s professional career began at the age of 14 with the Serbian club Red Star Belgrade. After being drafted by the Kings, he went on to play 13 seasons in the NBA highlighted by a NBA title with the Dallas Mavericks in 2011. Also during his NBA career, Stojakovic won the NBA All-Star Weekend Three-Point Shootout twice and was the first European-born player to win an All-Star Weekend competition. He ranks in the top 10 in NBA history in several categories, including 4th in career free throw percentage (.895), 9th in three-pointers made (1,760), and 7th in playoff free throw percentage (.900). Additionally, Stojakovic is the first player in NBA history to start a game off by scoring his team’s first 20 points.

“Peja was part of the awesome Kings dynasty that we’re working hard to bring back to Sacramento,” said Kings General Manager Pete D’Alessandro. “His high basketball IQ and unique ability to connect with the fans had a huge impact on the team and the community, and we hope Peja’s passion and determination carry over into this new era of Kings basketball.”

Video: Best plays from 2014 World Cup

Enjoy this FIBA video of the best plays from the 2014 World Cup tournament:

Deron Williams says ankles feel good

Here’s the New York Post with an update on Nets point guard Deron Williams:

Deron Williams says ankles feel good

Three months after undergoing surgery on both ankles, Deron Williams feels like a new man.

“[Before the surgery], I was just walking around and my ankles would swell up,” Williams said Monday at his charity dodgeball tournament in Manhattan, which benefited his Point of Hope Foundation. “Any time that happens, that’s bad.

“[Now] they feel good. I’ve been working out hard every day, getting ready to go.”

Williams, sporting a tan and a relaxed demeanor, was excited to be able to participate in the fifth annual version of his tournament, which he couldn’t do last year because of a sprained ankle. He was in a walking boot, kept out of all of training camp and for all but nine minutes in the final one of the Nets’ seven preseason games.

Here’s the New York Post with an update on the Nets:

Nets coach says Kevin Garnett still a starter

Throughout the offseason, there has been plenty of speculation about Kevin Garnett’s status for the upcoming season.

But not only is Garnett going to be back — something the Nets have expected for months, and which was confirmed by multiple players saying Monday he has been working out at the team’s practice facility for the past couple weeks — new coach Lionel Hollins said Garnett will be the team’s starting power forward when the season begins next month.

“There is nobody in the gym that I would put in his place,” Hollins said. “He has earned the right to have that opportunity, to be the starter from Day 1.

“Somebody has got to knock him out. … It’s got to be like a heavyweight fight. I don’t see that really happening, but if it happens then I will deal with that decision when it comes. But I think when we start playing, [Garnett] will be the starting power forward.”

Sunday in Spain, the USA beat Serbia 129-92 to win the 2014 World Cup gold medal. Enjoy these video highlights of some of the game’s best plays:

Heat sign forward Khem Birch

Heat sign forward Khem Birch

The Miami Heat announced today that they have signed forward Khem Birch.

We assume this is a non-guaranteed training camp signing that merely gives Birch a chance to compete for a regular season contract. 

Birch appeared in six games (all starts) with the Washington Wizards during the 2014 Vegas Summer League and averaged 5.0 points, 5.7 rebounds, 1.17 blocks and 19.3 minutes while shooting 47.8 percent from the field. He led the team in offensive rebounds and finished second in blocks, third in total rebounds and fourth in field goals made, free throws made and minutes. Additionally, he posted a seven-point, 11-rebound game vs. Miami on July 15 while shooting a perfect 3-of-3 from the field and a perfect 1-of-1 from the foul line.

Last season at UNLV he averaged a double-double after appearing in 33 games (32 starts) with the Rebels averaging 11.5 points, 10.2 rebounds, 3.76 blocks, 1.2 assists and 31.4 minutes while shooting 51 percent from the field. He was named the Mountain West Defensive Player of the Year and earned All-Defensive Team and All-Mountain West Second Team honors. He finished second in the NCAA in blocks per game and total blocks (124) and tied for seventh in total rebounds (337). He capped the season leading the team in blocks, free throws made (131), minutes (1,037), offensive rebounds (131) and tied for total rebounds.

The HEAT’s roster now stands at 17.

Watch the top five plays from the September 13 third-place game between Lithuania and France. The bronze medal was won by France, who squeezed out a 95-93 win.

Here’s the Orlando Sentinel reporting on the Magic:

tobias harris

Every player reaches some kind of crossroads, and Magic forward Tobias Harris is looking both ways as he steps into the 2014-15 season.

Harris will get an idea how the Magic value him, perhaps before the regular season begins. The deadline for rookie-scale extensions — Harris is part of the 2011 class — is Oct. 31

Does he fit into Orlando’s long-term plans or not?

He and the team can strike a new deal. The Magic also can still retain the ability to match any offer for Harris next summer if he becomes a restricted free agent.

“Obviously, I want to be here. … I love the fans, the city of Orlando and the guys. Management knows I want to be here. It’s the perfect situation for me,” Harris said after presenting a $50,000 check to Orange County Public Schools on Friday at the Orange County National Golf Club.

Here’s ESPN.com reporting on a Team USA player that recently took a nasty hit while playing in the World Cup:

Rudy Gay suffers fracture in jaw, broken tooth at World Cup

Sacramento Kings forward Rudy Gay said he has a fracture in his jaw and a broken tooth, but he insists that won’t keep him off the court as Team USA plays Serbia in the gold medal game of the FIBA Basketball World Cup on Sunday.

Gay suffered the injuries after getting elbowed in the fourth quarter of Team USA’s 96-68 victory over Lithuania in the semifinals on Thursday night in Barcelona.

“I’ve got a fracture in my jaw, a broken tooth and am going to probably need a root canal,” Gay told USA Today Sports on Saturday. “The top is where I got hit. It’s painful. It’s uncomfortable, and it still bleeds, so I’ve got to continuously gargle. It is what it is, man.”

James Young eager to play with Rajon Rondo

Here’s ESPN Boston reporting on the Celtics:

James Young eager to play with Rajon Rondo

What is James Young looking forward to most during his rookie season with the Boston Celtics?

“Playing with [point guard Rajon] Rondo,” Young told the team’s official website during a recent video Q&A. “He’s a player I looked up to growing up, and he sees the floor very well and has a high IQ for the game. So just getting open with him and seeing if we have can have a good connection.”

Young and Rondo are both Kentucky products and Young is clearly eager to see if Rondo’s playmaking can generate some open looks at the NBA level.

Melo supports LeBron return to Cavs

Here’s ESPN New York reporting Carmelo Anthony’s thoughts on LeBron James’ return to Cleveland:

Melo says return to Cavs was great move for LeBron

Anthony supports his buddy LeBron James’ move to the Cavs.

“I applaud him. I applaud him. I thought it was a great move for him,” Anthony said. “That’s not to take nothing away from what he’s already established and created down in Miami, but for him to go back home at this point in his career, you can’t ask for nothing better than that.”

Anthony didn’t want to talk much about the team James formed in Cleveland with Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving. The Knicks play the Cavs in Cleveland on the second game of the season — James’ first game back in his hometown.

“We’ll see them when we play them,” Anthony said. “They’re not on my radar right now. Don’t take that the wrong way. But they’re not on my radar. I’m focusing on one game at a time. When we play them the second game of the season, we’ll be ready.”

Basketball blog