Thunder land Cameron Payne in Draft

The Oklahoma City Thunder selected guard Cameron Payne with the 14th pick and center Dakari Johnson with the 48th pick in the 2015 NBA Draft, it was announced by Thunder Executive Vice President and General Manager Sam Presti.

Payne (6-2,180) appeared in 69 games in two seasons at Murray State, averaging 18.5 points, 5.7 assists, 3.7 rebounds and 1.81 steals in 32.4 minutes per game. As a sophomore, Payne was named the Lute Olson Player of the Year, an award given to the top NCAA Player with at least two seasons of experience after leading the Racers to a 29-6 season, which included an Ohio Valley Conference (OVC) regular-season championship and a pair of wins in the National Invitational Tournament.

During his sophomore season, the guard led the Racers to a 25-game winning streak (second longest in the nation) while averaging 20.2 points (13th in NCAA), 6.0 assists (15th in NCAA), 1.94 steals and 32.2 minutes in 35 games. He was named OVC MVP and Honorable Mention AP All-America. The Memphis, Tenn. native, appeared in 34 games as a freshman, averaging 16.8 points, 5.4 assists and 1.68 steals in 32.6 minutes per game. He was named All-OVC First Team, OVC Freshman of the Year and earned an MSU record nine OVC Freshman of the Week awards.

Johnson (7-0, 255), who helped Kentucky reach two consecutive Final Fours, appeared in 78 games during his two-year career in Lexington, averaging 5.8 points and 4.3 rebounds in 15.2 minutes per game. As a sophomore, the center helped UK to a 38-1 record including both the Southeastern Conference regular-season and tournament crowns, after averaging 6.4 points, 4.6 rebounds and 16.3 minutes in 39 contests.

The Brooklyn, NY product, played in 39 games as a freshman averaging 5.2 points and 3.9 rebounds in 14.1 minutes per game. He tallied 10 points and seven rebounds to help UK get past Wisconsin in the 2014 National Semifinal.

Nuggets draft Emmanuel Mudiay 7th overall

Nuggets draft Emmanuel Mudiay 7th overall

The Denver Nuggets selected guard Emmanuel Mudiay with the seventh overall selection in the 2015 NBA Draft.

Mudiay, 6-5, 200, was an early entry candidate and spent the 2014-15 season in China playing for the Guangdong Southern Tigers of the Chinese Basketball Association. In 12 games, he posted averages of 18.0 points, 6.3 rebounds, 5.9 assists and 1.60 steals in 31.5 minutes per game.

“We couldn’t be happier that Emmanuel was there for us at number seven and we are thrilled to welcome him to Denver as the newest member of the Denver Nuggets” General Manager and Executive Vice President of Basketball Operations Tim Connelly said.

Originally from Kinshasa, the capital and largest city in the Democratic Republic of Congo and also the city that produced former Nuggets great Dikembe Mutombo.
Mudiay attended Prime Prep Academy in Dallas, Texas where he led the team to a 30-6 record as a high school senior in 2014. After his senior season, Mudiay was ranked the number two overall player by Rivals and Scout and number five by ESPN. He was selected to the Parade and USA Today All-American First teams. He was also selected to play in the McDonald’s All-American game, the Jordan Brand Classic All-Star game and played alongside Nuggets 2014 second round draft pick (41st overall) Nikola Jokic at the Nike Hoop Summit.

The Memphis Grizzlies acquired the draft rights to Kentucky guard Andrew Harrison, who was selected with the No. 44 overall pick in the second round of the 2015 NBA Draft, from the Phoenix Suns for forward Jon Leuer, General Manager Chris Wallace announced tonight.

Harrison (6-6, 210) played two seasons (2013-15) at the University of Kentucky, averaging 10.1 points, 2.7 rebounds and 3.8 assists in 28.6 minutes in 79 games and starting in all but one game in his tenure. His 298 assists rank 16th in the Wildcats’ record books and are the most for a two-year player in program history.

Playing alongside his twin brother Aaron Harrison, the 20-year-old averaged 9.3 points, 2.2 rebounds and 3.6 assists in 25.5 minutes in 39 games (all starts) while shooting .383 from three-point range as a sophomore last season, helping Kentucky become the first team ever to post a 38-0 record before falling to Wisconsin in the 2015 NCAA Final Four. The Wildcats’ win total tied the most in NCAA history.

As a freshman, the San Antonio native recorded 10.9 points, 3.2 rebounds and 4.0 assists in 31.7 minutes in 40 games (39 starts), ranking third in UK freshman single-season history with 159 assists. He averaged 15.8 points, 7.0 rebounds and 7.0 assists as a senior at Travis High School where he directed the squad to a state title in 2013.

Harrison is one of six Wildcats to be drafted in the 2015 NBA Draft, joining Karl-Anthony Towns (No. 1 overall), Willie Cauley-Stein (No. 6), Trey Lyles (No. 12), Devin Booker (No. 13) and Dakari Johnson (No. 48).

Leuer (6-10, 228) holds career averages of 4.6 points and 2.8 rebounds in 11.9 minutes in 186 games (18 starts) over four seasons (2011-15) with the Milwaukee Bucks, Cleveland Cavaliers and Memphis Grizzlies. The 26-year-old registered 4.7 points, 3.0 rebounds and 0.5 assists in 11.9 minutes in 131 games (six starts) during his tenure in Memphis.

The Long Lake, Minn. native was selected by Milwaukee in the second round (40th overall) of the 2011 NBA Draft after a four-year career at the University of Wisconsin.

Celtics 2015 Draft results

The Boston Celtics selected guards Terry Rozier and R.J. Hunter, forward Jordan Mickey and guard Marcus Thornton in the 2015 NBA Draft.

Rozier, a 6’1” sophomore guard, was selected with the 16th overall pick. He ranked fourth in the ACC in scoring and was selected to the Second Team All-ACC. Rozier was also named to the ACC All-Rookie Team as a freshman. Rozier was named one of 17 watch list finalists for the 2015 Bob Cousy Point Guard of the Year Award and a Wooden Award Late Season Top 20 candidate for the nation’s top player.

Hunter, a 6’6” junior guard, was selected with the 28th overall pick. He was a two-time AP All-American Honorable Mention. Hunter was the first player in school history to earn conference player of the year honors twice and three straight First-Team All-Conference honors. In just three seasons, he became Georgia State’s all-time leading scorer with 1,799 points, while also topping career lists for three-pointers made, three-point attempts, free throw percentage, free throws made and free throw attempts.

Mickey, a 6’8” sophomore forward, was selected with the 33rd overall pick. He led the NCAA D-I in blocks per game (3.64) and led the SEC in rebounding (9.9 rpg), while being selected First-Team All-SEC by the coaches and media. Other than Shaquille O’Neal, he was the only player in LSU history to block more than 100 shots in a season (106 in 2014, 113 in 2015).

Thornton, a 6’4” senior guard, was selected with the 45th overall pick. He was the CAA Player of the Year and AP Honorable Mention All-American. Thornton finished as William & Mary’s career leader in points (2,178), three-pointers (325), games played (127), three-pointers made per game (2.56), minutes played (4,328) and minutes per game (34.1).

Sixers 2015 draft results

The Philadelphia 76ers announced today the team has selected the following players in the 2015 NBA Draft: Jahlil Okafor with the 3rd overall pick, Richaun Holmes with the 37th overall pick, Arturas Gudaitis with the 47th overall pick, J.P. Tokoto with the 58th overall pick and Luka Mitrovic with the 60th overall pick. Additionally, the Sixers acquired the rights to the New York Knicks two future second round picks in exchange for the rights to the 35th pick.

The 6′11″, 272 pound Okafor was an early entry candidate for the NBA Draft following a standout freshman season at Duke, during which he helped lead the Blue Devils to a 35-4 mark and the NCAA Championship. The 19-year-old Okafor averaged 17.3 points, 8.5 rebounds, 1.3 assists and 1.4 blocks, and was selected as a consensus First Team All-American. Additionally, he was named the 2015 ACC Player of the Year and the USBWA 2015 National Freshman of the year, while also being selected as a finalist for the Wooden and Naismith National Player of the Year awards. Okafor is also a three-time gold medal winner while playing for Team USA during the 2011 Under 16 FIBA Americas, the 2012 Under 17 World Championships and the 2013 Under 19 World Championships.

Holmes was named MAC Defensive Player of the Year for Bowling Green after the 2014-15 season, in addition to a First Team All-MAC selection. The 6-foot-8 forward averaged 14.7 points, 8.0 rebounds and 2.7 blocks as a senior and recorded 244 career blocks to top the Falcons’ all-time list.

Gudaitis played for Zalgiris in Lithuania’s LKL league in 2014-15, where he averaged 8.6 points and 4.8 rebounds in 57 total games, which included 21 starts. The 6’10” forward has spent the past three seasons in the Zalgiris organization.

Tokoto spent three seasons at North Carolina, where he averaged 8.3 points, 5.6 rebounds and 4.3 assists per game as a junior in 2014-15. The 6-foot-6 wing was selected First Team All-ACC Defensive Team for two consecutive seasons.

Mitrovic averaged 9.7 points and 5.7 rebounds for Crvena Zvezda during the 2014-15 season, where the team won the Adriatic ABA League title. The 6-foot-8 forward spent three seasons with Crvena Zvezda, where he played in 75 games in 2014-15, which included 60 starts.

Knicks trade Tim Hardaway Jr to Hawks

Knicks trade Tim Hardaway Jr to Hawks

The shakeup of the New York Knicks continues. Here’s the New York Daily News reporting a trade agreed to during the 2015 NBA Draft:

Knicks trade Tim Hardaway Jr to Hawks

Phil Jackson’s second move Thursday night probably was more popular than his first.

After drafting Latvian project forward Kristaps Porzingis with the fourth pick overall, the Knicks’ president picked up another first-round talent by agreeing to trade Tim Hardaway Jr. to Atlanta for No. 19 selection Jerian Grant, the point guard out of Notre Dame.

Grant, 22, was a four-year starter for the Irish, averaging 14.6 points and 5.8 assists over 119 collegiate games.

Several NBA Draft-night Hawks trades

Several NBA Draft-night Hawks trades

Here’s the Atlanta Journal Constitution reporting on some Atlanta Hawks trades agreed to during the 2015 NBA Draft:

The Hawks made two draft-night trades – and ended up with NBA player Tim Hardaway Jr. Thursday night.

The Hawks made their No. 15 overall pick in the first round of Kelly Oubre. The freshman small forward from Kansas won’t play in Atlanta. The Hawks sent Oubre to the Wizards for the No. 19 pick and two future second-round picks.

Twenty minutes later the Wizards picked Jerian Grant for the Hawks, who sent the point guard from Notre Dame to the Knicks for Hardaway.

Sixers draft Jahlil Okafor No. 2 overall

Sixers draft Jahlil Okafor No. 2 overall

Here’s the Philadelphia Inquirer reporting on the 2015 NBA Draft:

Sixers draft Jahlil Okafor No. 2 overall

The 76ers took the best available player, who just happens to be another towering post player.

The team selected Duke center Jahlil Okafor with the third pick in the NBA draft Thursday night at the Barclays Center at Brooklyn.

The Sixers were expected to take Ohio State guard D’Angelo Russell in that spot. But they settled on Okafor after Russell went second overall to the Los Angeles Lakers.

Okafor is a 7-foot, 275-pound man-child with an imposing presence on the blocks.

Warriors guard Brandon Rush exercises player option

Golden State Warriors guard Brandon Rush has exercised his player option for the 2015-16 season, the team announced today.

Rush, 29, appeared in 33 regular-season games for the Warriors in 2014-15, averaging 0.9 points and 1.2 rebounds in 8.2 minutes per contest. The 6-6 guard saw action in three playoff games during Golden State’s championship run, which saw the Warriors capture their first NBA title in 40 years.

Rush, who enters his fourth season with the Warriors, holds career averages of 7.6 points, 3.1 rebounds, 1.0 assists and 23.4 minutes in 362 games (105 starts) over seven seasons with Indiana, Golden State and Utah. His career three-point percentage (.401) ranks 11th best among all active players.

A member of the NCAA Champion Kansas Jayhawks in 2007-08, Rush is one of seven active players with both an NCAA title and NBA championship (Corey Brewer, Mario Chalmers, Danny Green, Nazr Mohammed, Marreese Speights, Jason Terry).

Timberwolves select Karl-Anthony Towns first in 2015 NBA Draft

The Minnesota Timberwolves tonight selected forward/center Karl-Anthony Towns from Kentucky with the first overall pick in the 2015 NBA Draft.

Towns, a 6-11 forward/center, averaged 10.3 points, 6.7 rebounds, 2.26 blocks and 21.1 minutes in 39 games (all starts) for the Wildcats this past season and was named SEC Freshman of the Year and First Team All-SEC. He shot 56.6 percent from the field, 81.3 percent from the free-throw line and recorded a team-best eight double-doubles. Towns was a Consensus Second Team All-American and was named NCAA Midwest Region Most Valuable Player after leading Kentucky to the Final Four. He scored a career-high 25 points, on 10-of-13 shooting, to lead the Wildcats past Notre Dame in the Elite Eight.

A native of Piscataway, New Jersey, Towns was a three time first-team All-State selection while playing for St. Joseph High School in Metuchen, New Jersey. He was named Gatorade Male High School Athlete of the Year in 2014 after averaging 20.9 points, 13.4 rebounds and 6.2 blocks and leading St. Joseph to a 30-2 record and a state title. Towns shot 66.1 percent from the field and 82.2 percent from the free-throw line as a senior. He made 127 three pointers over his three-year high school career.

The 19-year-old Towns has been a member of the Dominican Republic National Team since 2012 and averaged 2.6 points and 2.1 rebounds in FIBA play.

Bulls hire Pete Myers as assistant coach

The Chicago Bulls announced today that Pete Myers has been hired an as assistant coach on Fred Hoiberg’s coaching staff. In accordance with club policy, terms of the contract were not announced.

Myers, 51, returns to Chicago for his second stint with the Bulls after spending three seasons (2011-2014) with the Golden State Warriors, where he served as an assistant coach on Mark Jackson’s staff. Prior to his stint with the Warriors, Myers spent 12 seasons with the Bulls as an assistant coach (2001-2010) and scout (2000-01, 2011). He also served as Bulls interim head coach for two games (at Dallas on Nov. 25, 2003 and at San Antonio on Nov. 26, 2003) during the 2003-04 season and one game (at San Antonio on Dec. 26, 2007) during the 2007-08 season. During his eight-year NBA career, he played for five teams, including three seasons with the Bulls (1986-87, 1993-95).

Hornets trade Matt Barnes to Grizzlies for Luke Ridnour

The Memphis Grizzlies acquired forward Matt Barnes from the Charlotte Hornets in exchange for guard Luke Ridnour, General Manager Chris Wallace announced today.

Barnes (6-7, 226) holds career averages of 8.1 points, 4.5 rebounds and 1.7 assists in 779 games (296 starts) over 12 seasons (2003-15) with the Los Angeles Clippers, Sacramento Kings, New York Knicks, Philadelphia 76ers, Golden State Warriors, Phoenix Suns, Orlando Magic and Los Angeles Lakers. He owns career postseason averages of 7.4 points, 4.5 rebounds and 1.4 assists in 79 playoff games (44 starts) with the Warriors, Magic, Lakers and Clippers.

A key member of the Los Angeles Clippers over the past three years, Barnes averaged 10.1 points, 4.0 rebounds and 1.5 assists in a career-high 29.9 minutes in 76 games (74 starts) last season. The 35-year-old shot .362 from three-point range and set personal bests for three-point makes (136) and attempts (376). He was traded by Los Angeles with Spencer Hawes to Charlotte for Lance Stephenson on June 16.

The Santa Clara, Calif. native originally was drafted by Memphis in the second round (46th overall) of the 2002 NBA Draft following a four-year collegiate career at UCLA and traded to the Cleveland Cavaliers on draft night.

Ridnour (6-2, 175) owns career averages of 9.3 points, 2.3 rebounds and 4.5 assists in 26.1 minutes in 830 games (493 starts) over 12 seasons (2003-15) with the Seattle SuperSonics, Milwaukee Bucks, Minnesota Timberwolves, Charlotte and Orlando. The 34-year-old was drafted by Seattle in the first round (14th overall) of the 2003 NBA Draft after a three-year collegiate career at the University of Oregon.

The Blaine, Wash. native was acquired by Memphis yesterday from Orlando, where he averaged 4.0 points in 47 appearances last season, in exchange for the draft rights to Janis Timma.

Thunder trade Jeremy Lamb to Hornets for Luke Ridnour

Thunder trade Jeremy Lamb to Hornets for Luke Ridnour

The Oklahoma City Thunder acquired guard Luke Ridnour and a conditional 2016 second round draft pick from the Charlotte Hornets in exchange for guard Jeremy Lamb, it was announced today by Executive Vice President and General Manager Sam Presti.

Ridnour (6-2, 175), a 12-year NBA veteran, has played in 830 career games (493 starts) with five teams, averaging 9.3 points, 2.3 rebounds, 4.5 assists and 1.00 steals in 26.1 minutes. The University of Oregon product spent the 2014-15 season with the Orlando Magic, appearing in 47 games and averaging 4.0 points, 1.4 rebounds and 2.0 assists in 14.5 minutes. Ridnour was acquired by the Memphis Grizzlies on June 24, 2015 before being traded to Charlotte in a separate transaction earlier today.

Lamb appeared in 47 games (eight starts) for the Thunder in the 2014-15 season, averaging 6.3 points and 2.3 rebounds in 13.5 minutes. In three seasons with the Thunder, Lamb saw action in 148 games (eight starts) and averaged 7.0 points, 2.1 rebounds and 1.1 assists in 15.7 minutes.

The Utah Jazz announced today that the team has hired Jeff Watkinson as assistant coach/integrated player development and Zach Guthrie as manager of basketball strategy/technology.

For the past three seasons, Watkinson served as the strength and conditioning coach for the Atlanta Hawks (2012-15), who won a franchise-record 60 games in 2014-15 en route to the best record in the Eastern Conference. He rejoins Jazz Head Coach Quin Snyder after working with him in Atlanta (2013-14) and also at the University of Missouri (2001-06). Before working for the Hawks, Watkinson owned and operated Wat Training, where he worked with NBA players, including Pelicans guard Eric Gordon, to improve their strength, conditioning and basketball development skills. Prior to the NBA, Watkinson served as the head strength and conditioning coach at Indiana University from 2006-10, after holding similar positions at Missouri, Clemson, Charlotte and College of Charleston.

A native of Chicago, Watkinson began his studies in 1989 at Kishwaukee College in Malta, Ill., where he earned an associate’s degree in pre-medicine. He then received a baseball scholarship to attend North Carolina State, where he played for two years and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in pre-medicine in 1993. Watkinson went on to earn a master’s degree in exercise science from Indiana in 1996.

Guthrie arrives in Utah after spending three years with the Orlando Magic as the manager of advanced scouting from 2012-15. Prior to his time in Orlando, Guthrie spent two seasons with the San Antonio Spurs, ascending to the role of assistant video coordinator.

Guthrie got his start as a basketball operations intern with the Austin Toros of the NBA Development League in 2007, where he worked closely under Coach Snyder, then the Toros’ head coach. The San Antonio native graduated in 2010 from the University of Texas with a bachelor’s degree in business.

Sale of Atlanta Hawks approved by NBA

Sale of Atlanta Hawks approved by NBA

The Atlanta Hawks Basketball Club today announced that its purchase by an ownership group led by Tony Ressler was completed yesterday, following the unanimous approval by the NBA Board of Governors.

“On behalf of our ownership group, we are so excited to officially become part of the Atlanta Hawks Basketball Club, an important civic asset to the community,” said Ressler. “We look forward to building upon the success of the team’s incredible playoff run this past season and the excitement it generated in the entire community.”

Ressler will serve as Principal Owner and Chair of the Board of Directors of the Hawks and as the team’s Governor on the NBA Board of Governors. Other investors include seven-time NBA All-Star Grant Hill, who will serve as Vice Chair of the Board, Townsquare Media Chair and CEO Steven Price, Clayton Dubilier & Rice partner Rick Schnall, and Spanx founder Sara Blakely and Marquis Jet co-founder Jesse Itzler, who are married.

According to ESPN.com, “Ressler and his partners, including existing Hawks partner Steven Price and former NBA player Grant Hill, agreed to purchase the Hawks for approximately $850 million, including debt obligations, in April. The deal includes the operating rights to Philips Arena.”

According to the Atlanta Journal Constitution, “the ownership group also includes former owners Steven Price and Bob Goodman from the New York-based group. Michael Gearon Jr. and Sr. and Rutherford Seydel of the Atlanta-based group will retain a small investment of one percent combined. They were grandfathered in from the new NBA rule that requires an individual owner have at least a one percent share in a team. There are others with a small share in the franchise and Philips Arena. Ressler is the clear majority owner with a nearly 50 percent stake.”

About Tony Ressler

Tony Ressler co-founded Ares Management L.P., a publicly traded, leading global alternative asset management firm with approximately $87 billion of assets under management as of March 31,2015, in 1997. Ares operates four investment groups that invest in tradable credit, direct lending, private equity, and real estate. Ares currently has approximately 800 employees with offices in Atlanta in addition to its headquarters in Los Angeles and other offices in New York, Chicago, Dallas, London, Paris, Frankfurt, Stockholm and Shanghai. Ares Management’s current portfolio includes investments in several Atlanta area-based businesses including Floor & Décor Outlets of America, Inc., Serta Simmons Bedding, and Insight Global.

In the nonprofit sector, Ressler serves as a member of the Board of Directors of the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, as Co-Chair of the Board of Directors of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (“LACMA”) and as a member of the Board of Trustees of Georgetown University. He is also one of the founding members of the Board and Co-Finance Chair of the Painted Turtle Camp (affiliated with Paul Newman’s Hole in the Wall Association), which serves children dealing with chronic and life-threatening illnesses by providing old-fashioned camping experiences.

In the charter/public education sector, Ressler is a Founder and Board Co-Chair of the Alliance for College Ready Public Schools in Los Angeles. Since 2004, the Alliance has grown to 26 free, public charter middle and high schools serving approximately 11,000 students from LA’s poorest communities with historically underperforming schools. Four Alliance schools have been named California Distinguished Schools and three are ranked in the top 10 of all LAUSD schools. More than 90% of Alliance graduates have gone on to college.

Ressler received his B.S.F.S. from Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service and received his MBA from Columbia University’s Graduate School of Business.

Tony and his wife, actress Jami Gertz, have three sons.

About Grant Hill

Grant Hill is one of the most accomplished NBA players of this generation and a seven-time NBA All-Star. He is currently a managing principal and founder of Penta Mezzanine Fund, a private equity mezzanine firm. Hill oversees Penta’s day-to-day activities, including the review and analysis of prospective investments as well as leading investor relations efforts and raising more than $85M for the fund. Hill also leads Hill Ventures, a private commercial real estate investment company that for the past 18 years has successfully invested in several multi-family residential complexes and other commercial real estate properties throughout Florida, Arizona, North Carolina and Washington, DC.

In addition to his frequent speaking appearances, Hill has had significant broadcasting roles with CBS Sports, Turner Sports and NBA TV. In 2015, Hill was added as a game analyst for CBS Sports’ broadcasts of the NCAA Final Four and National Championship game, where he joined commentators Bill Raftery and Jim Nantz to call games throughout the tournament. Additionally, Hill also participated in TNT’s coverage of the NCAA March to the Final Four and NBA Playoffs. Additionally, he serves as an occasional studio analyst on TNT’s Inside the NBA. For NBA TV, Hill is the co-host of NBA Inside Stuff throughout the NBA regular season and a studio analyst on its GameTime broadcast.

Hill’s philanthropic activities include as a Member on the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports & Nutrition, and an active participant in the First Lady Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move” campaign. Through the Grant and Tamia Hill Foundation, Hill has funded the Calvin Hill Scholarship at the Duke Divinity School, as well as programs including Child Abuse Prevention, the Grant Hill Achiever Scholarship programs in Orlando and Detroit, and has made contributions to Habitat for Humanity. Hill serves on the Board of Directors of the Orlando Museum of Art and the Trinity School of Arts and Sciences at Duke University, and he is the Chairman of Duke University Basketball’s Legacy Fund.

Hill and his wife, Tamia, a 7-time Grammy-nominated singer, have two daughters.

Blazers trade Nicolas Batum to Hornets

Blazers trade Nicolas Batum to Hornets

The Portland Trail Blazers have acquired forward Noah Vonleh and guard Gerald Henderson from the Charlotte Hornets in exchange for forward Nicolas Batum, it was announced today by President of Basketball Operations Neil Olshey.

Vonleh (6-10, 240) enters his second NBA season in 2015-16 after Charlotte selected the Indiana standout with the ninth overall pick in the first round of the 2014 NBA Draft. In 25 career games with the Hornets, Vonleh, 19, is averaging 3.3 points (39.5% FG, 38.5% 3-PT, 69.2% FT), 3.4 rebounds, 0.2 assists and 10.4 minutes.

In his lone season at Indiana, Vonleh averaged 11.3 points and led the Big 10 in rebounding (9.0 rpg) on his way to Big 10 Freshman of the Year and All-Big 10 Third Team honors.

An NBA veteran, Henderson (6-5, 215) holds career averages of 12.0 points (44.3% FG, 30.9% 3-PT, 79.4% FT), 3.4 rebounds, 2.1 assists and 27.5 minutes in six seasons with Charlotte. Selected with the 12th overall pick in the first round of the 2009 NBA Draft out of Duke, Henderson, 27, ranked 26th in the NBA in free throw percentage last season (84.8%), while leading the Hornets in scoring 17 times.

“Nic Batum was a key contributor to all of our recent success,” said Olshey. “He will truly be missed as a person and a player. We wish Nic all the best for the future.”

In 481 career games (428 starts) with the Trail Blazers, Batum posted averages of 11.2 points (44.6% FG, 36.3% 3-PT, 83.4% FT), 5.1 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 30.8 minutes. Acquired in a 2008 draft day trade with Houston, Batum’s 751 career 3-pointers are the third-most in franchise history.

Nets may trade Mason Plumlee soon

Here’s the New York Daily News reporting on the Nets:

Probably the most pressing question facing the Nets on Thursday is not who they draft, but what’s the worth of future cornerstone Mason Plumlee.

As the Daily News reported last week, Plumlee is being shopped around by Brooklyn in its hopes of climbing into lottery territory to nab a point guard. The Nets were rejected by Indiana in a bid to land the 11th pick, and there is league-wide skepticism that Plumlee - who was shut out of the playoff rotation for two straight years - is enough to move the Nets dramatically from their current spot at 29th. According to sources, the Nets are particularly high on Kentucky’s Devin Booker and Murray State’s Cameron Payne, who are both probable lottery picks.

“I think it’s pretty talented through 10 (in the draft),” Nets director of scouting Gregg Polinsky said. “And then if some of those guys we think are from six or seven get to 12, I think we’d say it was a pretty good draft through the lottery. So, I think up at the top it is pretty talented, really talented. I think you have a chance at some franchise-type players, some All-Stars. And that generally makes for a pretty good draft. Obviously, when you get out of the lottery, how strong is it? Time will tell. But just with all the guys going back to school, it makes it a tougher pick at 29.”

The Utah Jazz announced today that the team has named Brian Zettler as the fourth head athletic trainer in franchise history. In addition, Nick Asay has been promoted to assistant trainer and Adam Klauke has been named the team’s equipment manager.

Zettler recently completed his 19th season in professional basketball and his 12th season with the Jazz, having served as the assistant trainer/equipment manager since the 2004-05 season. Prior to joining the Jazz, Zettler spent three seasons as the head athletic trainer with the Dallas Desperados of the Arena Football League. He concurrently spent four seasons assisting the Dallas Cowboys athletic training department. Zettler also worked with the Dallas Mavericks athletic training staff from 1997 until his departure to Utah. Before working in professional sports, he spent three years as the head athletic trainer at the Southwestern Assemblies of God University where he founded the school’s sports medicine program.

The Waxahachie, Texas native earned a bachelor’s degree in biomedical science from Texas A&M in 1993 and a dual master’s degrees in science and education from the University of North Texas in 1998 and 1999. He is also a Certified Strength and Conditioning Consultant (NCSA), a Performance Enhancement Specialist and Corrective Exercise Specialist (NASM). He was co-founder and elected inaugural president of the National Basketball Equipment Managers Association (NBAEMA) in 2013.

Zettler replaces longtime Jazz head athletic Trainer, Gary Briggs, who retired following the 2014-15 season after 33 NBA seasons, including 15 with Utah.

Asay spent the last two seasons assisting the Jazz athletic training staff and has worked for the franchise for six years total. In his new role, he will be a traveling member of the team’s training staff while continuing to work closely with the University of Utah Health Care, the official Jazz healthcare provider. Asay previously spent four seasons working for the University of Utah Health Care, serving as their head athletic trainer at Herriman High School from 2011-14.

The Salt Lake Valley native completed his undergraduate degree in athletic training and also received his master’s degree in sports psychology at the University of Utah. Asay served as the head athletic trainer for former Jazz NBA Development League affiliate, Utah Flash, from 2007-09. He previously worked as an athletic trainer for the University of Utah baseball team from 2004-06 and the Washington Nationals’ minor league affiliate, the Vermont Lake Monsters, from 2006-07.

Klauke has been with the Jazz for 16 years in various capacities in basketball operations, serving as the team’s assistant equipment manager and Zions Bank Basketball Center facility coordinator for the past three seasons. In addition to his time with the Jazz, Klauke spent 12 seasons with the Salt Lake Bees. Beginning as a program seller and bat boy, he served as assistant clubhouse manager for eight years.

A 2009 graduate of the University of Utah, Klauke earned a bachelor’s degree in health promotion and education.

Here’s the Minneapolis Star Tribune quoting Timberwolves president of basketball operations Flip Saunders on the value of top NBA draft prospect Karl-Anthony Towns:

karl-anthony towns

Most expect the Wolves to take Karl-Anthony Towns with the first pick. And while Flip wasn’t saying who he’s taking, he did extol Towns’ virtues when asked about the Kentucky center.

Here’s what he had to say when asked about Towns’ best attributes: “Everyone talks about his versatility,” Saunders said. “He’s known right now [as] more of a defensive player. He’s very much underrated offensively, I think, because of playing [in Kentucky coach John Calipari’s] situation. By far, he’s the best pick-and-roll defensive big man in the draft. If you base things on it analytically, he’s the top analytical player, everything he’s done, on a per-minute basis. There’s a reason that people are looking at him as being one of the top players in the draft.’’

Alvin Gentry-led teams tend to move fast

The New Orleans Pelicans finished last season with a 45-37 record, and were eliminated in the first round of the playoffs by the Golden State Warriors, who went on to win the 2015 NBA championship. Here’s the New Orleans Times-Picayune reporting on how the team may change under new head coach Alvin Gentry:

In the last five years Gentry has finished a season with a team – as the head coach of the Phoenix Suns in 2009-12 and as the associate head coach of the Los Angeles Clippers (2013-14) and Golden State Warriors (2014-15) – his team’s have never ranked lower than 8th in pace and finished first with the Warriors in their NBA title run.

Last year’s Pelicans’ squad finished 16th in the league in scoring averaging 99.4 points per game – the highest mark of Williams’ tenure. Gentry’s teams have led the league in scoring three times in the last six seasons with the Warriors averaging 111.0 points per game a season ago.

One of the things that impressed Pelicans general manager Dell Demps about Gentry was Gentry’s understanding of the Pelicans roster and the willingness to play with a different style in order to succeed in an ever-changing NBA.

“We interviewed a number of candidates, but Alvin talked about all of our players,” Demps said in Monday’s introductory press conference. “He had a great understanding of our team. He had an understanding of how he wanted this team to play. He talked about defense first and how that would make our defense better. I felt like we had a shared vision.

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