Here’s NY Newsday reporting on the Knicks, who are no longer led by Phil Jackson but have a lot of work to do in reshaping themselves as a squad:

allan houston

Allan Houston did have kind words for his new bosses, president Steve Mills and general manager Scott Perry. “Steve and Scott have been intentional in their language about what we want to be,” said Houston, who played nine of his 12 seasons with the Knicks. “It starts with identifying what you want to be and then going out and doing it. When I was here playing, it was very exciting and we had an identity. It’s about establishing that identity again. From what I’ve seen, the players are buying into it. I think it’s the first time in a long time that’s been the case.”

Though clearly not intended as a criticism, Houston’s observation was a commentary on the tenure of the Knicks’ previous president, Phil Jackson; the direction in which Jackson wanted to take the team never seemed clear. The current regime appears committed to getting younger and more athletic. To that end, the Knicks brought back shooting guard Tim Hardaway Jr., signing him to a huge free-agent contract this offseason.

Celtics will retire Paul Pierce jersey number on February 11, 2018

The Boston Celtics will retire Paul Pierce’s No. 34 after a mid-season game against the Cleveland Cavaliers on Sunday, February 11, cementing his 15-year Celtics legacy which includes countless accolades, significant milestones, and the 2008 NBA Championship.

“We teamed up with Paul from the beginning of our ownership and grew to be champions together,” said Celtics Co-Owner and Governing Partner Wyc Grousbeck. “He’s a great person and a great Celtic.”

Ten other Celtics players donned the number 34 prior to Pierce getting drafted by the team with the 10th overall pick in the 1998 draft. Now, after witnessing Pierce’s name skyrocket up a majority of the franchise’s historic leaderboards during his time in Boston, the 17-time NBA champions are raising his number among the other Celtics legends and champions.

“I will always be grateful for the sacrifices Paul made to help the Celtics be great,” said Celtics President of Basketball Operations Danny Ainge. “His love for the game was contagious and his talents and hard work were legendary. He was one of the greatest players of his era.”

“The moment I was drafted by the Celtics, I knew I was joining one of the most historic organizations in the NBA,” said Pierce. “For 15 years, I played at the Garden, looking up at the jerseys of some of the most iconic players in the game – Russell, Bird, and Cousy. To now be recognized alongside those names is such an honor. I have always said I would be a Celtic for life, and now it is really coming true.”

Pierce’s No. 34 will be ceremoniously lifted to the rafters of TD Garden less than 10 years after he helped raise the Celtics’ 17th championship banner up to the very same ceiling in 2008. Going head-to-head with the rival Los Angeles Lakers in his first career NBA Finals appearance, Pierce followed up a 22-point performance in a Game 1 victory with 28 more points on 9-of-16 shooting (4-4 3-PT) and eight assists in Boston’s Game 2 triumph. His 38 points in Game 5 of those Finals represented his second-highest scoring total in 26 postseason games that year.

Pierce was named the NBA Finals Most Valuable Player that year, making him the third Celtic to collect MVP honors in his first NBA Finals appearance (JoJo White – 1974, Cedric Maxwell – 1981). He averaged 21.8 points (43.2% FG, 39.3% 3-PT, 83.0% FT), 4.5 rebounds, 6.3 assists, 1.08 steals and 38.8 minutes in that six-game series en route to the Celtics’ first championship banner since 1986.

“Paul was a transcendent player, a great leader, and wonderful teammate; simply one of the great Celtics in every way,” said Celtics Co-Owner Steve Pagliuca. “His number in the rafters will forever remind us of the joy he brought to the game of basketball and his love for the fans and the city of Boston.”

While his role in the 2008 NBA Finals will forever be remembered as a key part of his Celtics legacy, it was a performance earlier that postseason that is widely remembered as one of his more iconic moments in green and white. Battling the Cavaliers in a decisive Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals, Pierce and LeBron James battled head-to-head in a back-and-forth scoring affair that saw both stars score over 40 points. The Celtics captain unloaded for a team-high 41 points (13-23 FG, 4-6 3-PT) to upend Cleveland, 97-92, and advance to the Eastern Conference Finals.

Pierce’s 15 seasons in Boston from 1998-99 to 2012-13 trails only John Havlicek (16) for the most ever spent in a Celtics uniform. He produced 21.8 points (44.7% FG, 37.0% 3-PT, 80.6% FT), 6.0 rebounds, 3.9 assists, 1.44 steals and 36.6 minutes in his achievement-filled 1,102 career games with the franchise.

Earning his iconic nickname “The Truth” during his third NBA season in 2000-01, Pierce tops the franchise lists in three-point field goals (1,823), free throws (6,434) and steals (1,583), while also placing as the Celtics’ second all-time leading scorer with 24,021 career points. He currently ranks in the organization’s top 10 lists in games played (3rd – 1 ,102), minutes played (3rd – 40,360), field goals (3rd – 7,882), field goal attempts (2nd – 17,630), three-point field goal attempts (1st – 4,928), free throw attempts (1st – 7,979), offensive rebounds (8th – 1,008), rebounds (7th – 6,651), assists (5th – 4,305), and blocked shots (4th – 668).

Pierce’s No. 34, which was also retired collegiately at the University of Kansas on Jan. 25, 2003, will represent the 22nd retired number in Celtics franchise history. He becomes the first Celtic to have his number retired since Cedric Maxwell’s No. 31 was retired on Dec. 15, 2003.

Knicks sign Jamel Artis, Nigel Hayes, Xavier Rathan-Mayes

The Knicks have signed forwards Jamel Artis and Nigel Hayes and guard Xavier Rathan-Mayes.

Until we hear otherwise, we will assume these are non-guaranteed or very partially-guaranteed deals that merely bring these players to training camp.

Artis, 6-7, 213-pounds, played four seasons at the University of Pittsburgh, averaging 12.6 points, on 47-percent shooting, 4.6 rebounds and 2.3 assists over 27.6 minutes in 135 games. As a senior, he averaged 18.2 points, 4.9 rebounds and a team-high 3.3 assists over 34.3 minutes in 32 games. Artis finished his career as one of three players in the program’s history to register at least 1,600 points, 500 rebounds and 300 assists in a career. The Baltimore, MD-native was a member of the Knicks’ entry in the 2017 NBA summer league in Orlando, FL to average 8.8 points over 19.4 minutes in five games.

Hayes, 6-8, 254-pounds, played four seasons at the University of Wisconsin, averaging 12.4 points, on 44.6-percent shooting, and 5.3 rebounds over 29.6 minutes in 150 games. As a senior, he averaged 14.0 points and 6.6 rebounds over 32.4 minutes in 37 games. His postseason honors included the 2015-16 All-Big Ten First Team and 2013-14 Big Ten Sixth Man of the Year and helped his Badger squad reach the 2014-15 National Championship game. Hayes ranks third on Wisconsin’s all-time scoring list (1,857 points) and is the only Badger to end his career in the school’s Top-10 in points, rebounds and assists. The Toledo, OH-native was a member of the Knicks’ entry in the 2017 NBA summer league in Orlando, FL to average 5.2 points and 5.0 rebounds over 15.4 minutes in five games.

Rathan-Mayes, 6-4, 208-pounds, played three seasons at Florida State University, averaging 12.4 points and 4.5 assists over 30.5 minutes in 100 games. As a junior (2016-17), he averaged 10.6 points on 45.3-percent shooting, 4.8 assists and 3.2 rebounds over 27.7 minutes in 35 games. He is fourth in Seminole history with 451 career assists and earned 2016-17 All-ACC Defensive team honors. The Markham, Ontario-native was a member of the Knicks’ entry in the 2017 NBA summer league in Orlando, FL to average 6.0 points and 3.5 assists over 17.8 minutes in four games.

John Wall speaks out on Charlottesville

Here’s what Wizards guard John Wall had to say about recent troubling non-basketball, non-sports events in Charlottesville, Virginia that have gripped the nation as of late, per the Washington Post:

John Wall speaks out on Charlottesville

“It’s been difficult. It’s been tough,” Wall said, referring to the previous week. “We go through times where times are going in the right direction for us. Our country is going in a positive way. Then we turn back around and revert back to the stuff we try to tell our kids not to do or what our parents told us … they went through in the past, and we thought we got away from that.

“It’s kind of amazing to understand that in 2017 going into 2018, we’re still dealing with the same type of things that our great, great grandparents dealt with and we thought we were going in a positive direction,” Wall continued. “All we can do is not use it as retaliation and try to stay positive and understand that we want to give these kids a brighter [outlook] of what’s going on and not use it to go back at these people.”

Nuggets hire Calvin Booth as Assistant General Manager

The Denver Nuggets have named Calvin Booth their Assistant General Manager, President of Basketball Operations Tim Connelly announced today.

Booth, 41, joins the Nuggets after spending the past four seasons with the Minnesota Timberwolves front office, most recently serving as the Director of Pro Personnel. Prior to his promotion last season, Booth was a scout for the New Orleans Pelicans during the 2012-13 season before transitioning to the same position in Minnesota for the start of the 2013-14 season. While in Minnesota Booth continued his rise as a basketball executive as he worked his way from a scout, to the Director of Player Programs and then to the Director of Player Personnel.

Before beginning his front office career, Booth played for seven different teams over a 10-year career in the NBA. He appeared in 366 games (83 starts), averaging 3.3 points, 2.8 rebounds and 1.00 blocks per game. The Reynoldsburg, OH native was drafted by the Washington Wizards in the second round (35th overall) of the 1999 NBA Draft after playing four years at Penn State University.

Booth and Connelly are no strangers, having worked together on two separate occasions with the Washington Wizards and also later with the New Orleans Pelicans. Booth had two separate stints as a player with the Wizards, first between 1999-01 while Connelly was a scout and again from 2005-07 while Connelly was the Director of Pro Personnel. Most recently the pair came together in the Pelicans front office where Booth was a scout during the 2012-13 season and Tim Connelly was finishing his last year as New Orleans’ Assistant General Manager before being hired as the Nuggets General Manager and Executive Vice President of Basketball Operations.

Nuggets hire Bob Weiss as assistant coach

The Denver Nuggets have hired veteran NBA coach and player Bob Weiss to join Head Coach Michael Malone’s staff as an assistant coach, President of Basketball Operations Tim Connelly announced today.

Bob Weiss brings 34 years of coaching experience to Denver, including 31 at the NBA level. Weiss, who spent the past four seasons as an assistant coach with the Charlotte Hornets, has been a head coach on four occasions, compiling a 223-299 career record (.427) with the San Antonio Spurs (1986-88), Atlanta Hawks (1990-93), Los Angeles Clippers (1993-94) and Seattle SuperSonics (2005-06). Along with the last four seasons in Charlotte, his tenure as an assistant coach includes stops with the San Diego Clippers (1977-80), Dallas Mavericks (1980-86), Orlando Magic (1989-90) SuperSonics (1994-2005) and Atlanta Hawks (2012-13).

In 2008, Weiss became the first former NBA head coach to be a head coach in China, where he spent two seasons leading the Shanxi Zhongyu Brave Dragons (2008-10) and one season with the Shandong Lions (2010-11).

Prior to coaching, Weiss played 12 seasons in the NBA. Drafted by the Philadelphia 76ers as the 22nd overall pick in the 1965 NBA Draft, he averaged 7.6 points, 3.7 assists and 1.8 rebounds in 783 career games for the 76ers, Seattle SuperSonics, Milwaukee Bucks, Chicago Bulls, Buffalo Braves and Washington Bullets. Weiss also saw action in 53 playoff games, including winning the 1967 NBA Championship with the 76ers.

Utah Jazz hire Eric Waters as Head Athletic Trainer

The Utah Jazz have hired Eric Waters as Head Athletic Trainer.

A veteran in the athletic training field, Waters comes to the Jazz after spending 12 seasons (2004-16) as the head athletic trainer for the Washington Wizards, where was selected as the NBA’s Athletic Trainer of the Year by the National Basketball Athletic Trainers Association (NBATA) following the 2009-10 season. He has also served as an athletic trainer for the USA Men’s National Team since 2014.

Certified and licensed as an athletic trainer (ATC), strength and conditioning coach (CSCS), corrective exercise specialist (CES) and performance enhancement specialist (PES), Waters previously served as both Secretary of the NBATA, as well as the association’s Eastern Conference representative, and was a featured speaker at the 2010 National Athletic Trainers Association Conference in Philadelphia.

Prior to joining the Wizards, Waters spent four years as the assistant athletic trainer of the Chicago Bulls from 2000-2004. His career has also included assistantships within the athletic departments of Northwestern University and the University of Iowa, and he spent two seasons with NFL Europe working as the head athletic trainer for the London Monarchs and the assistant athletic trainer for the Rhein Fire, following an internship with the NFL’s Carolina Panthers.

Waters received bachelor’s degrees in both exercise science and psychology from the University of Iowa in 1995 and a master’s in exercise science from Boise State University in 1998. Waters has continued to enhance his skillset throughout his career by traveling abroad to study the latest high performance sport and sports medicine techniques and practices, and is currently pursuing a master’s in high performance sport (MPHS) degree from Australian Catholic University located in Australia.

Very involved in community efforts, Waters has made multiple international trips in support of the NBA’s Basketball Without Borders efforts, and is also active in the Big Brothers/Big Sisters program among others.

Raptors sign Kyle Wiltjer

The Toronto Raptors signed forward Kyle Wiltjer (pronunciation: WILT-jer) today.

Wiltjer, 6-foot-10, 240 pounds, appeared in 14 games for the Houston Rockets last season, totaling 13 points and 10 rebounds in 44 minutes of action. He also averaged 20.5 points, 6.4 rebounds and 35.9 minutes in 22 contests for the Rio Grande Valley Vipers of the NBA G League. He shot .379 (81-for-214) from three-point range with the Vipers.

Wiltjer signed with the Rockets as an undrafted free agent in September 2016. He played two collegiate seasons at Kentucky (2011-13) before transferring to Gonzaga (2014-16), where he averaged a team-high 20.4 points during his senior season. Wiltjer was named All-West Coast Conference First Team as a junior and senior.

Pacers sign Damien Wilkins and Ben Moore

The Indiana Pacers have signed free agents Damien Wilkins and Ben Moore.

The 6-6 Wilkins is a 37-year old veteran who last played in the NBA with Philadelphia in 2012-13, averaging 6.3 points and 2.4 rebounds. Since then he has played in China, Puerto Rico, Venezuela and with NBA Development League franchises in Iowa and Greensboro. Before joining the 76ers, Wilkins played with Oklahoma City, Minnesota, Atlanta and Detroit.

Moore is a 6-8 rookie forward who played at SMU. His senior season, he averaged 11.4 points and 7.8 rebounds. He will be designated as an affiliate player and play with the Pacers’ Gatorade League affiliate, the Fort Wayne Mad Ants. Moore played five games with the Pacers’ summer league team in Orlando, averaging 3.8 points and 3.0 rebounds.

The New Orleans Pelicans today announced their schedule for the 2017-18 regular season. The Pelicans will open the season at the FedEx Forum against division rival Memphis on Wednesday, October 18, before returning to New Orleans for the team’s home opener against the defending NBA Champion Golden State Warriors on Friday, October 20 on ESPN at the Smoothie King Center.

The Pelicans will head to the west coast for a three-game road trip before returning home to face the defending Eastern Conference Champion Cleveland Cavaliers on Saturday, October 28.

New Orleans is scheduled to appear on national television 14 times this season. In addition to the home opener against Golden State, ESPN is scheduled to broadcast the Pelicans’ matchups Nov. 17 at Denver, Jan. 26 vs. Houston, Mar. 30 at Cleveland, Apr. 4 vs. Memphis and Apr. 9 at the L.A. Clippers. TNT is scheduled to air the Pelicans’ road contests at Sacramento on Oct. 26 and Mar. 6 against the L.A. Clippers. NBATV is set to broadcast six Pelicans games – Oct. 24 at Portland, Dec. 11 at Houston, Jan. 16 at Boston, Feb. 5 vs. Utah, Mar. 9 vs. Washington and Mar. 24 at Houston.

The Pelicans will play 17 of their 41 home games on Friday (7), Saturday (5), or Sunday (5).

All home games will tip off at 7:00 p.m., with the exception of the five Saturday night home contests, as well as the home game vs. Philadelphia on Dec. 10, tipping off at 6:00 p.m.; two Sunday contests that will tip-off at 3:00 p.m. (Jan. 28 vs. L.A. Clippers, Mar. 11 vs. Utah); two Sunday contests that will tip-off at 5:00 p.m. (Mar. 18 vs. Boston, Apr. 1 vs. Oklahoma City); and the matchups against Golden State on Oct. 20 and Memphis on Apr. 4, which will tip-off at 8:30 p.m. as part of ESPN’s national double-header on those evenings.

The Pelicans’ longest homestand will be four games, which will take place twice during the season – Dec. 4-10 when New Orleans plays host to Golden State, Denver, Sacramento and Philadelphia; and Mar. 17-22 with matchups against Houston, Boston, Dallas and the L.A. Lakers. The Pelicans have three, four-game road trips – Nov. 3-9 with games in Dallas, Chicago, Indiana and Toronto; Dec. 15-23 with stops in Denver, Washington, Orlando and Miami; and Feb. 28-Mar. 7 with contests against San Antonio, Dallas, the L.A. Clippers and Sacramento.

The Pelicans will play Southwest Division rivals (Dallas, Houston, Memphis and San Antonio) four times each (twice at home/twice on the road). The same holds true for Pacific and Northwest Division foes, with the exception of the Los Angeles Lakers (one road game on Oct. 22), the Oklahoma City Thunder (one road game Feb. 2), the Denver Nuggets (one home game Dec. 6) and the Phoenix Suns (one home game Feb. 26). New Orleans will also play each team in the Eastern Conference once at home and once on the road.

Pistons move downtown this NBA season

The Detroit Pistons will make their downtown Detroit debut and open the 2017-18 NBA Season at Little Caesars Arena on Wednesday, October 18 (7:00 p.m. EST) against the Charlotte Hornets.

The sparkling new state-of-the-art Little Caesars Arena features a dramatic arena bowl with close proximity to the action, great sight lines, a 5,100 square-foot overhead scoreboard with seamless display and some of the most advanced technology and fan amenities in the NBA.

Highlights of the Pistons’ home schedule include two appearances by LeBron James, Kyrie Irving, Kevin Love and the Eastern Conference Champion Cleveland Cavaliers (November 20 and January 30) and two visits from Isaiah Thomas, Gordon Hayward and the Eastern Conference finalists, the Boston Celtics (December 10 and February 23). The NBA Champion Golden State Warriors featuring Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant and Michigan-native Draymond Green visit December 8, all-star point guard Chris Paul, MVP runner-up James Harden and the Houston Rockets come to Little Caesars Arena on January 6 and reigning NBA MVP Russell Westbrook, all-star forward Paul George and the Oklahoma City Thunder visit January 27.

Other intriguing Eastern Conference home contests include two meetings with John Wall, Bradley Beal and the Washington Wizards (January 19 and March 29), who pushed Boston to seven games in last year’s Eastern Conference Semi-finals. Kyle Lowry, DeMar DeRozan and the Toronto Raptors visit Little Caesars Arena on March 7 and April 9 while NBA Most Improved Player of the Year Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Milwaukee Bucks make stops in Detroit on November 3 and February 28. Joel Embiid, 2017 first overall pick Markelle Fultz, Ben Simmons and the Philadelphia 76ers appear on October 23 and April 4.

Enticing Western Conference home matchups include meetings with Kawhi Leonard, LaMarcus Aldridge and the San Antonio Spurs on December 30 and Jimmy Butler, Karl-Anthony Towns and the re-vamped Minnesota Timberwolves on October 25. Damian Lillard, C.J. McCollum and the Portland Trail Blazers make their lone stop to the Motor City on February 5 and rookie guard Lonzo Ball and the new-look Los Angeles Lakers come to Detroit on March 26.

The Pistons begin the first of two five-plus game home stands with match-ups vs. Milwaukee (November 3), Sacramento (November 4), Indiana (November 8), Atlanta (November 10) and Miami (November 12). Detroit then hits the road for five of their next six games: at Milwaukee (November 15), at Indiana (November 17), at Minnesota (November 19), vs. Cleveland (November 20), at Oklahoma City (November 24) and at Boston (November 27). From January 30 to February 28, the Pistons enjoy 10-of-13 games at home including a season-high six-game home stretch with games against Cleveland (January 30), Memphis (February 1), Miami (February 3), Portland (February 5), Brooklyn (February 7) and L.A. Clippers (February 9). Detroit embarks on their longest road trip, a six-game stint, with meetings at Utah (March 13), at Denver (March 15), at Portland (March 17), at Sacramento (March 19), at Phoenix (March 20) and at Houston (March 22).

Detroit will make eight appearances on national television with three on ESPN, one on TNT and four games on NBATV. ESPN’s broadcasts include games vs. Golden State on Friday, December 6 (7:00 p.m. EST), vs. Washington on Friday, January 19 (8:00 p.m. EST) and vs. Toronto on Wednesday, March 7 (8:00 p.m. EST). TNT’s broadcast will be on Tuesday, January 30 at 8:00 p.m. EST against Central Division rival Cleveland Cavaliers. NBATV will broadcast Pistons games at L.A. Lakers on Tuesday, October 31 (10:30 p.m. EST), Monday, January 15 vs. Charlotte (12:30 p.m. EST), Monday, March 5 at Cleveland (7:00 p.m. EST) and Sunday, April 8 at Memphis (2:30 p.m. EST). The club’s local television schedule on Fox Sports Detroit will be announced at a later date. All games will be broadcasted on radio at 97.1 FM The Ticket or WWJ NewsRadio 950.

The Pistons’ schedule features 14 sets of back-to-back games this season. Four of the team’s back-to-back sets begin on the road and end at home, eight back-to-backs are on the road, one begin at home and conclude on the road and one back-to-back is at home.

The Oklahoma City Thunder have announced its 2017-18 regular-season schedule. The team will start its 10th season on Thursday, Oct. 19, at home versus New York, followed by a road contest at Utah on Saturday, Oct. 21.

Regionally, 70 of the Thunder’s 82 regular-season games will be broadcast on FOX Sports Oklahoma, which reaches viewers in Oklahoma, Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri and Nebraska. All games can be heard via the Thunder Radio Network, led by flagship station WWLS-The Sports Animal (98.1 FM) in Oklahoma City.

Oklahoma City is scheduled to appear on national television at least 36 times during the 2017-18 season. ABC will feature the Thunder on six occasions, TNT 12 times and ESPN nine times. NBA TV will also feature the Thunder on at least nine occasions during the regular season.

The Thunder will play 19 home weekend dates comprised of 10 Fridays, one Saturday and eight Sundays. Six of the eight Sunday contests will be played at 6 p.m., while the Thunder contest versus the 76ers on Jan. 28 will start at 5 p.m. and its Feb. 4 matchup with the L.A. Lakers commencing at 1 p.m.

As previously announced, Oklahoma City will play on Christmas Day for the eighth straight season and third consecutive at home when it welcomes Houston to Chesapeake Energy Arena on Monday, Dec. 25. For the 10th time, the Thunder will be at home on the final night of the year when Dallas visits Oklahoma City on Sunday, Dec. 31. The Thunder will host the Kings in a 2 p.m. matinee on Martin Luther King Day, Monday, Jan. 15.

The Thunder month-by-month breakdown includes seven games in October (three home, four road), 13 games in November (six home, seven road), 17 games in December (11 home, six away), 14 games in January (six home, eight road), 12 games in February (five home, seven road), 14 games in March (eight home, six road) and five games in April (two home, three road).

Oklahoma City’s schedule includes six three-game road trips, with three lasting five days away from home. The club will also compete in seven one-game and eight two-game trips, including its first-ever contest in Mexico City versus Brooklyn on Thursday, Dec. 7. The game counts as a home game for the Nets.

The Thunder will compete in 14 back-to-back sets during the 2017-18 season, consisting of four road/road, five home/road and five road/home back-to-backs.

Kings season to begin vs Rockets

The Sacramento Kings will host MVP finalist James Harden, nine-time NBA All-Star Chris Paul and the Houston Rockets in their season opener from Golden 1 Center on Wednesday, Oct. 18 at 7 p.m.

For most Kings games this season, tip-off will return to the traditional 7 p.m. start time. Basketball fans have an opportunity to access pre-paid parking spots, ride public transportation and download the dual-mode Kings + Golden 1 Center app to enhance the game-day experience with on-demand information regarding parking and more.

The Kings will be featured on national television 12 times during the 2017-18 campaign, highlighted by a TNT Sports broadcast from Golden 1 Center as Sacramento plays host to DeMarcus Cousins, Anthony Davis and the New Orleans Pelicans on Thursday, Oct. 26. Lonzo Ball and the L.A. Lakers visit on Wednesday, Nov. 22 for the first of three ESPN telecasts originating from Sacramento. The other pair of ESPN matchups from Golden 1 Center include two-time MVP Stephen Curry and four-time scoring leader Kevin Durant as the 2017 NBA Champion Golden State Warriors make the short trip down I-80 on Friday, Feb. 2, and a Pacific Division clash with the Portland Trail Blazers a week later on Friday, Feb. 9. Sacramento plays to a national audience on eight occasions delivered by NBA TV, showcasing home contests versus reigning MVP Russell Westbrook and the Oklahoma City Thunder (Nov. 7), Jimmy Butler, Karl-Anthony Towns and the Minnesota Timberwolves (Feb. 26) and an April Fools road installment with Ball and longtime rival Lakers (April 1).

Sacramento will play 20 of its first 33 contests on the road before returning to Golden 1 Center following the holidays. Marquee contests during this opening stanza include matchups against the Washington Wizards led by John Wall and Bradley Beal (Oct. 29), All-Stars Isaiah Thomas, Gordon Hayward and the Boston Celtics (Nov. 1), Philadelphia 76ers starring No. 1 draft selections Markelle Fultz and Ben Simmons alongside current Rookie of the Year Joel Embiid (Nov. 9), at Golden State Warriors (Nov. 27), a visit to face 4-time NBA MVP and 13-time All-Star LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers (Dec. 6), a rematch with Cousins and Davis in the Big Easy (Dec. 8) and perennial title-contending San Antonio Spurs led by 2016 MVP finalist Kawhi Leonard, Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili and veteran addition Rudy Gay (Dec. 23).

Bucks schedule highlights

The Milwaukee Bucks will tip off their 50th Anniversary season on the road against the Boston Celtics on Wednesday, Oct. 18, followed by a four-game homestand at the BMO Harris Bradley Center, beginning with a nationally televised game on ESPN against the Cleveland Cavaliers on Friday, Oct. 20. The home opener, presented by BMO Harris Bank, is the first of 18 weekend home games for the Bucks in 2017-18 and the first of 10 nationally televised games on ESPN and TNT.

2017-18 BUCKS SCHEDULE HIGHLIGHTS

Eighteen games available to a national television audience, including six on ESPN (Oct. 20 vs. Cleveland, Nov. 10 at San Antonio, Jan. 18 vs. Golden State, March 4 vs. Philadelphia, March 19 at Cleveland and April 11 at Philadelphia), four on TNT (Oct. 26 vs. Boston, Feb. 27 vs. Washington, March 27 at L.A. Clippers and March 29 at Golden State) and the remaining eight on NBA TV (Oct. 31 vs. Oklahoma City, Nov. 7 at Cleveland, Nov. 30 at Portland, Dec. 4 at Boston, Dec. 9 vs. Utah, Dec. 19 vs. Cleveland, Dec. 26 vs. Chicago and Jan. 8 at Indiana)

A pair of home games against the three-time defending Eastern Conference champion Cleveland Cavaliers on Friday, Oct. 20, and Tuesday, Dec. 19

The lone visit from the NBA Champion Golden State Warriors on Friday, Jan. 12

Two December home matchups against the rival Chicago Bulls on Friday, Dec. 15, and Tuesday, Dec. 26

A Martin Luther King Jr. Day matinee at the Washington Wizards on Jan. 15

Two Sunday afternoon home games against New Orleans on Feb. 25 and San Antonio on March 25

The 2017-18 regular season schedule for the 50th Anniversary season features two, season-long four-game road trips (Nov. 22-30 and Feb. 4-10) and the season-long four-game homestand at the beginning of the season against Cleveland, Portland (Oct. 21), Charlotte (Oct. 23) and Boston (Oct. 26).

BUCKS SCHEDULE NOTES

The Bucks will play each team in the Eastern Conference four times with the exception of Atlanta (2 home, 1 road), Brooklyn (2 home, 1 road), Miami (1 home/2 road) and Toronto (1 home/2 road) … They will play each Western Conference team twice … The Bucks have 15 back-to-back sets, down from 18 a season ago (7 home/road, 3 road/home, 3 road/road, 2 home/home) … SCHEDULE BY MONTH (HOME/ROAD): October (5/2), November (4/9), December (9/5), January (8/7), February (5/7), March (7/8), April (3/3) … SCHEDULE BY DAY OF THE WEEK (HOME/ROAD): Sunday (3/5), Monday (6/7), Tuesday (6/4), Wednesday (7/7), Thursday (4/3), Friday (10/7), Saturday (5/8).

Celtics face Cavs on NBA opening night

A Christmas Day home game, an international affair against a division rival and a slate of early season matchups against Eastern Conference competitors highlight the Boston Celtics 2017-18 regular season schedule, as announced today by the NBA.

The Celtics – whose 53-29 record topped the Eastern Conference a year ago – will make 25 total National Television appearances between ABC, ESPN and TNT. The first of those scheduled broadcasts coincides with the NBA’s Opening Night on Oct. 17, when Boston matches up against the Cleveland Cavaliers in a rematch of last season’s Eastern Conference Finals. Celtics forward and 2017 NBA All-Star Gordon Hayward will make his highly anticipated TD Garden debut alongside fellow All-Star teammates Isaiah Thomas and Al Horford the very next night on Oct. 18, when the Celtics host the Milwaukee Bucks to tip off their 41-game regular season home schedule.

The Celtics’ home schedule expects to be highly competitive over the first month of the regular season, as Boston plays host to four different 2016-17 playoff teams in the first 31 calendar days of the NBA season. Among those four contests looms Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant and the defending NBA-Champion Golden State Warriors, who make their lone regular season appearance at TD Garden on Thursday, Nov. 16. The Celtics will host the Los Angeles Lakers the week prior on Wednesday, Nov. 8, giving Lakers guard Lonzo Ball and Celtics forward Jayson Tatum – the No. 2 and No. 3 selections in this year’s NBA Draft – a chance to experience the historic rivalry for the first time.

Highlighted by the franchise’s first home game on Christmas Day, the Celtics will have a recurring presence at TD Garden throughout the holiday season. Boston welcomes the Orlando Magic on Friday, November 24, the day after Thanksgiving, before stepping into the NBA spotlight on Christmas Day for a playoff rematch against the Washington Wizards. The Celtics will also host James Harden, newly acquired All-Star Chris Paul and the Houston Rockets on Thursday, Dec. 28, before challenging the Brooklyn Nets in a New Year’s Eve showdown on Sunday, Dec. 31.

Fans will have the opportunity to watch two showcases between the Celtics and Cavaliers at TD Garden this season. LeBron James and the reigning Eastern Conference champions represent Boston’s first opponent of the new year on Wednesday, Jan. 3, and will return the week before the NBA All-Star Game on Sunday, Feb. 11. There will also be ample occasions early in the season to witness Celtics basketball on their home court, as Boston will play a combined 18 home games in the months of November (8) and December (10). The Celtics’ longest homestand of the season is a five-game stretch against Detroit, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Milwaukee and Dallas from Nov. 27 to Dec. 6. Russell Westbrook – the NBA’s 2016-17 Most Valuable Player – and his new All-Star counterpart Paul George will guide the Oklahoma City Thunder to Boston on Tuesday, March 20 for their only regular season appearance at TD Garden.

The Celtics’ schedule also features an opportunity to play in front of their global fan base. The NBA announced on Aug. 10 that Boston would compete against the Philadelphia 76ers in the NBA London Game 2018 at The O2 on Thursday, Jan. 11, marking the Celtics’ first regular season game in London.

Mavs ready to begin 38th season

The Dallas Mavericks have announced their 2017-18 schedule, which will tip-off at American Airlines Center vs. Atlanta on Oct. 18 at 7:30 p.m. CT.

The 2017-18 campaign will mark the Mavericks’ 38th season and their 17th playing at American Airlines Center. Dallas will play its first two games of the season at home before traveling to division-rival Houston on Oct. 21 for its first road test.

The Mavericks’ national TV schedule includes five games on ESPN, one on TNT and five on NBA TV.

All five of the Mavericks’ ESPN games will come against Western Conference opponents, with three of those coming on the road. The Mavericks’ first ESPN telecast will come at the Los Angeles Clippers on Nov. 1. The remaining four ESPN games are: vs. San Antonio (Dec. 12), vs. Houston (Jan. 24), at Phoenix (Jan. 31) and at the Los Angeles Lakers (Feb. 23).

TNT’s lone Dallas game comes when the Mavericks visit the Golden State Warriors for the first time on Dec. 14.

Dallas will also have five games televised on NBA TV, all coming on the road.

Hawks home opener is October 27

The National Basketball Association has released the 2017-18 regular season schedule, and the Atlanta Hawks Basketball Club will begin the season at Dallas on Wednesday, Oct. 18. After visiting Charlotte (Oct. 20), Brooklyn (Oct. 22), Miami (Oct. 23) and Chicago (Oct. 26), the Hawks return to Philips Arena to host the Denver Nuggets in the home opener on Friday, Oct. 27 at 7:30 p.m.

All games will air on the Hawks’ flagship radio station, CBS RADIO’S SportsRadio 92-9 The Game, as well as partner stations on the Hawks Radio Network, with “Voice of the Hawks” Steve Holman on the call. The complete local television schedule on FOX Sports Southeast will be released at a later date.

All of Atlanta’s Monday-through-Saturday home games will feature 7:30 p.m. tip times, with the exception of Monday, Jan. 15 vs. San Antonio (tipping at 3:00 p.m.) and Saturday, Jan. 20 vs. Chicago (5:00 p.m.). Sunday game times will vary.

The aforementioned Jan. 15 matchup marks the return of the annual Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday game to Philips Arena.

Atlanta faces each Eastern Conference team four times, except for Philadelphia and Chicago (two home/one road), as well as New York and Milwaukee (one home/two road), and every Western Conference opponent twice. The Hawks play 19-of-41 home games on weekends (seven Friday, seven Saturday, five Sunday).

The Portland Trail Blazers will tip-off their 48th NBA season at the Phoenix Suns on Wednesday, Oct. 18, it was announced today by the NBA.

Portland will open the 2017-18 campaign with a three-game road trip, followed by a four-game homestand that begins with the home opener vs. New Orleans at the Moda Center on Tuesday, Oct. 24.

All 82 Trail Blazers games will be televised by national carriers or CSN, and aired on the Trail Blazers Radio Network.

Among the highlights at the Moda Center in 2017-18: the defending NBA champion Golden State Warriors make the trip up on Feb. 14 and March 9; the Cleveland Cavaliers travel to Portland on March 15; the L.A. Lakers make their lone appearance in the Rose City on Nov. 2; and the Boston Celtics come to town on March 23.

The Trail Blazers will play 10 of their first 14 games at the Moda Center to begin the season, and seven of their final 10 on the road.

Portland will take on 10 of 14 Western Conference opponents twice at home and twice on the road, while playing Golden State, San Antonio, Dallas and the L.A. Lakers only three times apiece. Of those matchups, the Trail Blazers host Golden State and San Antonio twice, and the L.A. Lakers and Dallas once. The team will face each Eastern Conference team twice.

The Trail Blazers will close out the regular season on Wednesday, April 11 vs. Utah.

Cavs have 39 national TV broadcasts

The Cleveland Cavaliers will open the 2017-18 campaign on Tuesday, October 17 at Quicken Loans Arena against the Boston Celtics in a nationally televised game between last year’s Eastern Conference Finals opponents at 8:00 p.m. ET on TNT. This will mark the eighth time in nine years the Cavs will tip off the season at The Q, where they will play 17 weekend home dates comprised of five Friday games, seven Saturday games and five Sunday games. The Cavaliers are slated to appear on at least 39 national television broadcasts, 20 of which will originate from downtown Cleveland at The Q.

Suns hire Jeff Fish as director of performance and head strength and conditioning coach

The Phoenix Suns have named Jeff Fish as director of performance and head strength and conditioning coach. Fish brings to the Suns’ athletic training staff over 25 years of experience as a performance director and strength and conditioning coach in professional and collegiate sports.

In his role, he will be responsible for strength and conditioning, player performance, nutrition and applied sports science, and will work closely with Senior Vice President of Athlete Health and Performance Aaron Nelson and his staff on injury prevention, rehabilitation and rest/recovery.

Fish joins the Suns after most recently operating his own Atlanta-based performance training company, Jeff Fish Performance, and has also served as a performance consultant with the Portland Trail Blazers, Seattle Seahawks and Seattle Sounders. Prior to that, Fish spent five years (2008-13) as director of athletic performance with the Atlanta Falcons, the first person to hold that title for any NFL team, as the Falcons had the winningest five-season stretch in franchise history, winning two NFC South division titles and making four playoff appearances. During his time with the Falcons, Fish began the implementation of movement efficiency assessments at the NFL Combine.

In addition to the Falcons, Fish holds NFL experience of four seasons as head strength and conditioning coach with the Oakland Raiders (2004-07) and three seasons as assistant strength and conditioning coach with the Kansas City Chiefs (1998-2000). Fish has also held positions with Division I collegiate programs, serving as director of strength and conditioning at the University of Missouri (2001-04), head strength and conditioning coach at the University of Tulsa (1995-98) and Kent State University (1993-95), and strength and conditioning assistant at Clemson University (1991-93).

A graduate of Western Carolina University where he was a wide receiver on the football team, Fish also holds a Master’s in Physical Education and Exercise Science from Western Michigan University where he was a graduate assistant strength and conditioning coach. The Ithaca, New York native is a certified strength and conditioning specialist (CSCS), certified strength and conditioning coach (SCCC) and licensed massage therapist (LMT).

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