Sacramento Kings fire coach Michael Malone

Sacramento Kings fire coach Michael Malone

The Sacramento Kings announced today that Michael Malone has been relieved of his head coaching duties, according to General Manager Pete D’Alessandro. Kings assistant coach Tyrone Corbin will assume head coaching responsibilities.

“This was an extremely difficult decision, but one we feel is in the best interest of the franchise moving forward,” said D’Alessandro. “Michael made significant contributions to the organization on many levels and helped foster cultural changes that positively impacted our team. We’re thankful for the commitment he exhibited during his time in Sacramento and wish him and his family the very best in the future.”

In 106 games at the helm, Malone compiled a 39-67 record since taking over as head coach prior the 2013-14 campaign. The Kings enter play Tuesday with an 11-13 mark on the season (fourth in Pacific Division standings).

The Philadelphia 76ers today announced they have signed power forward/center Furkan Aldemir (Fur-kahn Al-di-meer).

The native of Turkey has been playing professionally in his home country since 2007-08. He joined Galatasaray Liv Hospital in 2011 and helped them earn the Turkish Basketball League (TBL) title in 2012-13 before finishing as runner-up in 2013-14. Aldemir (6′10″, 240) was leading the TBL in rebounding with 11 per game this season, after leading the league in total rebounds in 2013-14 and earning All-Star honors in 2010 and 2012.

During EuroLeague play, Aldemir was part of the Galatasaray team that advanced to the final 16 in 2011-12 and the top eight in 2013-14.

Aldemir is also a member of the Turkish senior national team and competed in the 2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup. At the 2011 FIBA Europe Under-20 Championship, Aldemir averaged 15 points, a tournament-high 16 rebounds and nearly two blocks per game en route to earning All-Tournament honors.

Aldemir was originally the 53rd overall pick in the 2012 NBA Draft and the Sixers acquired his rights from Houston on July 13, 2013. Prior to his signing, Aldemir was one of five players (Dario Saric, Vasilije Micic, Jordan McRae and Arsalan Kazemi) playing internationally whose rights are held by the Sixers.

In a related move, the Sixers waived Ronald Roberts.

Kings fire coach Mike Malone

Sacramento Kings fire coach Mike Malone

Here’s the Sacramento Bee reporting a huge late-night Kings development:

Kings fire coach Mike Malone

The Kings have fired coach Michael Malone, league sources confirmed Sunday night, and will replace him with assistant coach Tyrone Corbin.

After starting the season 5-1, the Kings are 11-13 and have lost three in a row and eight of their last 10.

Star center DeMarcus Cousins has missed the last nine games because of viral meningitis. The Kings are 2-7 without him.

Malone, who went 39-67, was hired before the 2013-14 season after a group led by Vivek Ranadive purchased the franchise and vowed to keep it in Sacramento.

Malone was hired before Pete D’Alessandro came aboard as general manager. Ranadive declared Malone was the best assistant coach on the market and he had to hire him before another team did.

Ronny Turiaf to undergo hip surgery

Ronny Turiaf to undergo hip surgery

The Minnesota Timberwolves today announced that center/forward Ronny Turiaf will undergo an arthroscopic procedure on his right hip. The operation will be performed this Tuesday by Dr. Bryan Kelly at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York. A further update on Turiaf’s status will be provided following Tuesday’s procedure.

Turiaf has played in two games this season, totaling one rebound and two assists in just over 18 minutes of action. Turiaf spent the first five games of the season and the last 14 contests on the inactive list due to right hip soreness.

Heat assign Shabazz Napier and Hassan Whiteside to D-League

The Miami HEAT announced today that they have assigned both guard Shabazz Napier and center Hassan Whiteside to their NBA Development League affiliate, the Sioux Falls Skyforce.

Napier has appeared in 23 games with the HEAT this season averaging 5.7 points, 2.2 rebounds, 2.0 assists and 21.4 minutes while shooting 42.9 percent from the field. He previously scored in double-figures in six-straight games from November 16 through November 25, the longest such streak by a HEAT rookie since Michael Beasley did so in eight consecutive games from April 1, 2009 through April 15, 2009,

Whiteside, who was signed by Miami on November 24, has appeared in three games with the HEAT this season totaling six points, four rebounds and a block in nine minutes of action while shooting a perfect 3-of-3 from the field. Earlier this season, he appeared in three games in the NBA Development League with the Iowa Energy and averaged 22.0 points, 15.7 rebounds, 5.33 blocks and 28.7 minutes while shooting 85.7 percent from the field, helping them to a perfect 3-0 record.

OKC Thunder recall Grant Jerrett and Mitch McGary from D-League

The Oklahoma City Thunder has recalled forwards Grant Jerrett and Mitch McGary from the Oklahoma City Blue of the NBA Development League, it was announced today by Executive Vice President and General Manager Sam Presti.

Jerrett has appeared in four games (four starts) for the Blue this season, averaging 10.5 points, 4.8 rebounds, and 1.0 assist in 21.0 minutes per game.

McGary has played in six games (six starts) with the Blue this year, averaging 17.8 points, 8.2 rebounds, 1.50 steals, and 1.33 blocks in 25.5 minutes per contest.

Video: Vince Carter IT’S OVER dunk

Video of that legendary Vince Carter IT’S OVER dunk:

Sixers sign Ronald Roberts, waive Jorge Gutierrez

Sixers sign Ronald Roberts, waive Jorge Gutierrez

The Philadelphia 76ers today announced they have signed free agent forward Ronald Roberts from their NBA Development League affiliate, the Delaware 87ers. He is the 11th D-League to NBA “Call-Up” of the 2014-15 NBA Development League season.

In a related move, the Sixers waived Jorge Gutierrez.

Roberts started all eight games for the Sevens so far this season, averaging team-highs of 18 points and 12 rebounds while shooting 67% from the floor. He was also on the Sixers roster during the preseason and the Orlando Pro Summer League.

Los Angeles D-Fenders add Ater Majok

The Los Angeles D-Fenders have acquired forward/center Ater Majok, it was announced today by General Manger Nick Mazzella.

Drafted out of UCONN in the second round (58th overall) of the 2011 NBA Draft by the Los Angeles Lakers, Majok appeared in three Summer League games with the Lakers before signing with BK SPU Nitra of Slovakia. The 6’10” forward/center averaged 11.2 points, 8.1 rebounds, 2.6 blocks and 1.4 assists in 41 games for Nitra in 2011-12. In 113 games internationally between 2011 and 2014, Majok tallied 9.5 points, 5.8 rebounds and 1.7 blocks per game.

Here’s the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reporting on the Bucks:

Bucks rookie forward Johnny O’Bryant returned to practice Thursday, his first on-court work since suffering a sprained right medial collateral ligament during the preseason.

That qualified as good news for a Bucks frontcourt that has been depleted due to injuries. Power forward Ersan Ilyasova remains out with a nasal fracture and forward-center John Henson is still out although getting closer in his recovery from a sprained left foot.

O’Bryant, a second-round pick from LSU, suffered his injury during the Oct. 9 preseason game against Detroit.

“First time,” Bucks coach Jason Kidd said of O’Bryant’s return. “He looked good. We’ll see how he feels tomorrow. Hopefully he can get more work done, but I thought he did a great job today.”

Here’s ESPN Boston with a Celtics report:

Celtics rookie James Young dealing with shoulder issue

Boston Celtics rookie James Young was undergoing testing Thursday to determine the severity of a right shoulder subluxation sustained in an NBA Development League appearance Wednesday night with the Maine Red Claws.

Young injured the shoulder after absorbing contact from Drew Gordon while trying to corral a pass near midcourt late in the third quarter of a game against the Delaware 87ers. Young was attended to by a trainer on the court before walking off the floor while still clutching the right (non-shooting) shoulder.

Rajon Rondo brushes off criticism

Here’s ESPN Boston reporting on the Celtics:

Rajon Rondo brushes off criticism

Boston Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo offered a local pigskin comparison when asked about individual criticism that he’s heard as part of his team’s fourth-quarter struggles this season.

“It doesn’t matter to me,” said Rondo. “I’ve been here longest, I’m the team captain, and I’m the point guard, so, just like in football, in the beginning they blamed [quarterback Tom] Brady a lot [when the New England Patriots struggled]. It’s part of it. It’s not weighing on me at all.”

With Wednesday’s loss in Charlotte, the Boston Celtics fell to 4-9 this season in games in which the team was within five points in the final five minutes of play. The Celtics’ team defensive rating in those “clutch” situation balloons to 116.4 points per 100 possessions, the second worst mark in the league. What’s more, Boston, which actually ranks near the top 10 in turnover percentage for the season, plummets to 23rd overall in frequency of giveaways during crunch time situations.

Here’s ESPN New York reporting on the Brooklyn Nets, who are 8-12, just traded unused bench player Andrei Kirilenko to the 76ers today, and lately have been playing without the services of injured center Brook Lopez:

Nets coach discusses team need for improvement

The Brooklyn Nets have gotten off to a terrible start — and their coach wants more.

“We’re not a team that can play poorly and beat somebody,” Lionel Hollins said Thursday. “We’re not a very good team at this stage of our development.”

Asked if he expected an [8-12] start when he took the job, Hollins responded, “I didn’t know what to expect. I thought we would be better. I didn’t know when. We have some deficiencies. The rebounding one is huge, and defensively, the quickness against most teams is huge and just being able to execute and play at a tempo that keeps us in games versus letting the other team having their way of playing. That’s important, too.

“But with this group it’s a learning process of how to play that way, and I think most of the guys would like to play quicker, but it gives the other team too many opportunities.”

Nets sign Darius Morris

Brooklyn Nets sign Darius Morris

Nets sign Darius Morris

The Brooklyn Nets have signed free agent guard Darius Morris, Nets General Manager Billy King announced today.

Morris (6’4”, 195) was selected with the 41st pick in the 2011 NBA Draft by the Los Angeles Lakers and appeared in 19 games during his rookie season, averaging 2.4 points and 1.1 assists in 8.9 minutes per game. He also saw action in four playoff games, scoring 10 points in eight minutes. In his second season, Morris, 23, appeared in 48 games (17 starts), averaging 4.0 points, 1.2 rebounds and 1.6 assists in 14.2 minutes per game. He boosted his averages to 10.5 points, 1.3 rebounds and 3.0 assists in 26.3 minutes per game through four Lakers’ playoff games (two starts).

Morris joined the Philadelphia 76ers for the 2013-14 season where he appeared in 12 games with Philadelphia, averaging 6.9 points, 1.1 rebounds and 2.6 assists in 16.3 minutes per game before being waived. Morris then signed two 10-day contracts with the Los Angeles Clippers, appearing in 10 games, and one 10-day contract with the Memphis Grizzlies, seeing action in five games. Prior to the start of the 2014-15 season, Morris signed with the Portland Trail Blazers and was among the team’s final cuts. In 94 career NBA games, Morris has recorded averages of 3.7 points, 1.1 rebounds and 1.5 assists in 12.4 minutes per game. He has also appeared in a total of 12 D-League games in his career, including three games on assignment with the Lakers’ affiliate, the Los Angeles D-Fenders, and nine games with the Rio Grande Valley Vipers.

Morris spent two years at the University of Michigan before declaring as an early entrant in the 2011 NBA Draft. He was named to the All-Big 10 Third Team following a sophomore season in which he averaged 15.0 points, 4.0 rebounds and 6.7 assists per game and set the school’s then single season assists record.

Nets trade Andrei Kirilenko to 76ers

Nets trade Andrei Kirilenko to 76ers

Nets trade Andrei Kirilenko to 76ers

The Brooklyn Nets have acquired forward Brandon Davies from the Philadelphia 76ers in exchange for forward Andrei Kirilenko, guard Jorge Gutierrez, the Nets’ second round draft pick in 2020 and the right to swap second round picks in 2018, General Manager Billy King announced today. In addition, the Nets created a $3.4 million trade exception and a $916,000 trade exception with the transaction.

According to multiple reports, the Sixers are expected to waive Kirilenko, whose return to the NBA is uncertain.

Davies (6’10”, 240) joins the Nets after spending the last two seasons with the 76ers. He signed as a free agent with Philadelphia after going undrafted in the 2013 NBA Draft and appeared in 51 games during his rookie season, averaging 2.8 points and 2.1 rebounds in 11.3 minutes per game. This season, Davies, 23, has seen action in 20 games (six starts), and posted averages of 6.3 points, 3.7 rebounds and 1.4 assists in 19.0 minutes per game. A native of Provo, UT, Davies spent four years at Brigham Young University, earning All-Mountain West Conference Third Team honors following his sophomore season and All-West Coast Conference Team recognition following his junior and senior seasons.

Kirilenko was signed as a free agent by the Nets on July 12, 2013. He appeared in 45 games (four starts) during the 2013-14 season, averaging 5.0 points, 3.2 rebounds and 1.6 assists in 19.0 minutes per game. He also saw action in 10 playoff games, averaging 2.5 points and 2.3 rebounds in 14.4 minutes per game. This season, Kirilenko has seen action in seven games, totaling three points and eight rebounds in 36 minutes. In 13 NBA seasons, Kirilenko has appeared in 797 games (546 starts) and averaged 11.8 points, 5.5 rebounds, 2.7 assists, 1.4 steals and 1.8 blocks in 30.0 minutes per game. He earned his lone All-Star appearance in 2004 as a member of the Utah Jazz and was named to the NBA’s All-Defensive First Team following the 2005-06 season.

Gutierrez was signed to a 10-day contract by the Nets from the Canton Charge of the NBA Development League on March 6, 2014 and made his NBA debut three days later against the Sacramento Kings. He signed a second 10-day contract on March 17 before signing for the remainder of the season on March 28. Gutierrez appeared in 15 games (two starts) with the Nets during the 2013-14 season, averaging 4.1 points, 1.5 rebounds and 2.0 assists in 16.3 minutes per game. He also saw three minutes of action in two playoff games. This season, Gutierrez has appeared in nine games, averaging 1.8 points in 4.3 minutes per game.

Kobe Bryant, point guard? Maybe.

Desperate times call for desperate measures. Here’s the Orange County Register reporting on the Lakers, who are 6-16 this season:

Kobe Bryant, point guard? Maybe.

It is no surprise to see Kobe Bryant with the ball in his hands at the end of games.

But late in Tuesday’s 98-95 win over the Sacramento Kings, it was by design.

Coach Byron Scott opted to eschew a traditional backcourt, playing Bryant at point guard for all but the final 34 seconds of the fourth quarter.

It worked, as the Lakers star scored or assisted on each of the Lakers’ final five field goals.

Shifting Bryant to point guard at critical junctures is something Scott said he had been thinking about, and he said he has gone so far as to contemplate starting the 36-year-old at the position.

“I even talked to him about it,” Scott said. “I said, ‘I’m thinking about it, but I’m not there yet.’ So yeah I have thought about it.”

Pelicans assign Russ Smith to D-League

The New Orleans Pelicans announced today that the team has assigned rookie point guard Russ Smith to the Fort Wayne Mad Ants of the NBA Development League.

Smith, 6-0, 185, has appeared in two games for Fort Wayne, averaging 14.5 points and 3.0 steals in 25.5 minutes per game.

Smith has appeared in three games for New Orleans, averaging 0.3 rebounds per game. Smith appeared in six preseason contests for the Pelicans, averaging 5.0 points, 1.2 assists and 0.8 rebounds.

Drafted out of the University of Louisville by Philadelphia with the 47th overall pick of the 2014 NBA Draft, Smith was acquired by New Orleans in a draft night trade.

Atlanta Hawks hire a Diversity and Inclusion Officer

The Atlanta Hawks and Philips Arena have named Nzinga Shaw as the organization’s new Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer (CDIO), it was announced today by CEO Steve Koonin. In this role, Shaw is responsible for developing and embedding diversity and inclusion best practices throughout the organization. She will design a strategic, cross-departmental program that creates deeper cultural awareness and sensitivity. Additionally, Shaw will serve as a member of the Executive Committee and provide guidance to the leadership team so that they can engender inclusivity in every facet of the business. She will report directly to Koonin.

“I am excited to be a member of the Atlanta Hawks and Philips Arena organization at such a pivotal time. My goal as the CDIO is to help our organization continue to rebuild trust and partnership in the Atlanta community, emphasizing civility and sportsmanship in an effort to ensure that everyone can be a fan of the team, attend home games, and so that we can serve as a model for inclusion in the NBA,” Shaw said. “More specifically, I will lead the charge of creating a strategic framework to help shift the culture so that we can create greater inclusion and engagement with all of our fans and stakeholders.”

Shaw most recently served as SVP of Diversity & Inclusion at Edelman, the world’s largest public relations agency. There she led the implementation of a global diversity and inclusion strategy. For her work, Shaw was selected by PR Week in August 2014 as a recipient of the 2014 40 Under 40 Award, and she was featured in the Atlanta Business Chronicle in October 2014 as one of 15 women to receive the inaugural “Women Who Mean Business Award” for her strength in creating viable workplace diversity and inclusion programs. Shaw is an alumna of Spelman College (BA) and the University of Pennsylvania (MLA).

“As CEO, I am committed to infusing diversity and inclusion throughout our organization and I will continue to champion it from the very top. A key part of the new model – appointing a CDIO who reports directly to me – will improve accountability across the organization,” Koonin said. “Nzinga will help us establish diversity and inclusion as a competitive advantage in terms of exceptional internal performance, outstanding customer service, and unparalleled fan engagement.”

Mavs may want to add big physical player

Here’s the Dallas Morning News reporting on the Mavericks, who are having a very good season but could get even better with certain roster adjustments:

Mavs may want to add big physical player

The Mavericks know they need a little extra bulk in the interior. After Tyson Chandler, they simply don’t have anybody who can hold his ground in the meat-grinder that is the paint.

Greg Smith simply hasn’t proved to be reliable, and while Brandan Wright is an efficient player, playing a physical game just isn’t his style.

Anybody heard from Jermaine O’Neal lately?

That’s one name that is out there. And there are a few others in the mix. No move appears imminent, but rest assured the Mavericks are considering their options.

Jazz beat Spurs for much-needed win

Here’s the Deseret News reporting some Utah Jazz success from Tuesday:

The Utah Jazz were finally able to get the monkey off their backs. After going three weeks without a victory, Utah managed to defeat the San Antonio Spurs 100-96 in a home game at EnergySolutions Arena.

From the get-go, the Jazz played with a great sense of purpose and urgency. They assumed a very aggressive persona, as evidenced by several early, successful forays to the hoop. As a result, Utah not only set the tone early on, but managed to maintain control of it for much of the game. The Jazz crashed the boards, played with the pass and played some gritty, much more focused defense. The end result was a dramatic win.

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