July 2007 - Posts

Phoenix Suns guard Raja Bell underwent arthoscopic knee surgery yesterday to clean up some damage in his right knee cap. 

The surgery doesn't sound serious and he should have no effects from the surgery after the 4-6 week recovery period.  The surgery was successful, so Bell should be just fine for training camp and the 2007-08 season.

Suns' team physician Dr. Tom Carter performed the surgery and had this to say about it:

“Raja had mild wear and tear of his knee cap,” said Carter. “This was simply a clean-up procedure. He should experience a full recovery in four to six weeks without any limitations on his play.”

More info from NBA.com

Posted by chowell | with no comments
Kurt Thomas' hustle & defense will surely be missed

On the verge of paying a hefty luxury tax this year, the Phoenix Suns made a move to help trim the payroll even more today.  The trade of Kurt Thomas to the Seattle Supersonics will free the Suns of approximately $8 million dollars this coming year.  Phoenix was projected to be about $10 million over the salary cap, so by shipping out Thomas, they get into a much more manageable position.

Here's what you need to know:

  • Sonics get Thomas and the Suns first-round draft picks in 2008 & 2010.
  • Suns should now only be about $2 million over the salary cap.
  • Suns get an $8 million dollar trade exception, but it must be used within 1 year.
  • Kurt Thomas joins Sonics to mentor rookies Jeff Green and Kevin Durant.
  • Thomas is in the last year of his contract, so the Sonics have no obligation next year.

There are rumors that Phoenix made the trade in order to prepare for another trade, perhaps involving Shawn Marion or Amare Stoudemire.  Suns' General Manager Steve Kerr said the move was made for financial reasons and that Phoenix still wants to keep it's core of Marion, Stoudemire and Steve Nash together for another championship run.

"We are doing everything we can to keep our core group together. Sometimes in doing so, you have difficult decisions to make," said Suns President of Basketball Operations and General Manager Steve Kerr in a press release Friday.

"We feel good going forward having our core group of players under contract for several years, including the recent addition of free-agent Grant Hill. The bottom line is there are tough decisions to make, but we have flexibility and our core together. We really like the group of players we've assembled and feel we can make a legitimate run for an NBA championship next season."

It's hard to comprehend why the Suns threw 2 first-round draft picks into the trade, but I guess they'll figure it out later.  The loss of the picks hurts their chances over the next 3 years to pickup a quality player directly out of college.  None of the stories I've read indicate whether the picks are protected or not, but the assumption is that they're not.  I doubt Phoenix will be entering the draft lottery in the next few years anyway, so they probably didn't lose too much.

The trade leaves Phoenix very weak in the paint and on defense, something that was already very evident in this year's playoffs.  I'm not sure what their plan is, but there aren't a lot of big men available right now, so they're either going into the season with Amare as their biggest post threat, or they have something else planned. 

Posted by chowell | with no comments
NBA - National Basketball Association
7/21/07 - The latest news on the Tim Donaghy story:
The New York Post broke a story that an NBA official is being investigated by the FBI for apparent gambling and possibly for “fixing games“.  While The referee in question has yet to be named, he is aware of the investigation and will turn himself into authorities soon (Fiji anyone?).  The FBI believes that the bets on NBA basketball games took place during the 2005-2006 and 2006-2007 seasons.  One can only hope that all of the games this guy “worked“ were regular season games and not the playoffs.
Updated 2pm (PST): The FBI is investigating allegations that veteran NBA referee Tim Donaghy bet on basketball games over the past two seasons, including ones in which he officiated.  Defense attorney John Lauro confirmed Donaghy is under investigation but refused to comment on the allegations or the case.
 
According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Donaghy officiated 68 games in the 2005-06 season and 63 games in 2006-07. He also worked 20 playoff games, including five last season.
The referee is being accused of making bets on NBA games, including those that he was officiating.  Authorities are trying to analyze the games to determine if the official impacted the outcome of the basketball game by calling fouls (or not), and thus affecting the point spread for betters.  There are reported links to organized crime - again, this is all speculation at this point.
The NBA issued a brief statement Friday: "We have been asked by the FBI, with whom we are working closely, not to comment on this matter at this time."
While all the details have yet to come out, it's certainly another black eye for the NBA, who seriously needs a new image consultant.  The past year has been very unkind to the league (new ball, Suns playoff suspensions) and they could really use some good news.  If it turns out that this official did affect the outcome of the games, it would be a hard truth to swallow.  Despite David Stern's comments that the game isn't fixed, it seems that he didn't know the whole story.  While the league itself wasn't directing the games, its very likely that this official and the people who he was working with, were controlling them.

Posted by chowell | with no comments
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2008 NBA All-Star Game Logo - To be Hosted by New Orleans, LA

During a basketball clinic Tuesday for Jr. NBA and WNBA attendees, the NBA unveiled the logo for the 2008 NBA All-Star Game, which is hosted by New Orleans.  This will mark the first time that New Orleans has hosted the All-Star Game, with next year being the 57th game overall.  Among the guests present for the unveiling of the logo were former NBA great Clyde “The Glide“ Drexler, Hornets' player Hilton Armstrong and several other local basketball figures.

The logo features the Hornets' Mardi Gras colors of teal, purple and gold. It also includes several distinct New Orleans touches, including brass instruments that acknowledge the city's rich musical history, as well as a depiction of the wrought iron material commonly used in Big Easy balconies.

The logo is really pretty neat and well done overall.  It seems to really capture what New Orleans is about and should help the city to regroup some of the luster it has lost since hurricane Katrina.  I personally haven't been to Mardi Gras or New Orleans, but it seems like a great city.  They're lucky to get the opportunity to host the annual event.

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The Suns announced the signing of forward Grant Hill on Wednesday.  Here is video of the official announcement:

Steve Kerr's main comments:
Suns only priority this offseason...
Perfect fit for Suns system...
Awful lot to offer physically - ability to run, passing skills, unselfishness, etc...
Strengthen locker room...
Embodies what the organization is looking for in players...
Phoenix has a lot to offer...

Grant's main comments:
Excited to be here...
Thinks the world of Steve Nash...
Loves D'Antoni's style of play and the team...

Mike D'Antoni's main comments:
On the court, a young 35...
All-Star caliber talent...
Looking forward to leadership & playing abilities...

Grant also gave a post-conference interview, which you can watch in its entirety here:

Posted by chowell
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Free agent Grant Hill expected to sign w/ the Phoenix Suns for 2007-2008 season

The Phoenix Suns are expected to sign free agent forward Grant Hill as soon as they're allowed to (after July 11th I believe).  Phoenix had very little to offer Hill, but after receiving $90+ million from the Orlando Magic for playing basically only 1-2 seasons, he really doesn't need the money - in fact, he probably should've re-signed w/ the Magic for FREE or for the same lower-level exception that he's going to sign w/ the Suns.  The Suns will pay Grant Hill approximately $1.8 million this season - a HUGE bargain, especially if he plays in 50% of the games or more.

Grant Hill's demeanor and attitude on the court are sure to be a bonus for the Suns, who lost a little composure in the playoffs against the San Antonio Spurs.  He's been described as “bringing calmness” to the court, and most are hoping that rubs off on some of the younger players (ie: Amare & Diaw).

Seriously though, this is a sweet pickup for the Suns.  Grant Hill knows how to play the game and should help Phoenix throughout the season as long as he stays healthy. 

In other Suns news...
First round draft pick Alando Tucker has signed a 2-year deal w/ the team.  Tucker will make about $1.5 million over the 2 years.  Their other draft pick, D.J. Strawberry has yet to sign a contract.

Orlando Magic

Free agent forward Rashard Lewis agrees to maximum contract with the Orlando Magic.  Rashard's deal is the maximum allowed under the collective bargaining agreement, and will pay him approximately $15 million per year for the next 5 years (could turn into 6 years).  His former team, the Seattle Supersonics are trying to work out a deal w/ the Magic which would extend Lewis' contract to 6 yrs, but it would require a sign & trade deal involving other players.  Orlando is happy to work something out, since they're likely to be over the salary cap (or close to it).  It would only make sense that Seattle signs Lewis for the maximum (6 yrs) and then the two teams work out a trade involving additional players.

Lewis is looking forward to playing alongside Dwight Howard in Florida, a player who the Magic have said will be around for a long time.  This is apparently one of the reasons that Lewis signed; because they'd be keeping Howard in town and building a championship caliber team.

You shouldn't feel bad for the Sonics though... they just picked up Kevin Durant and Jeff Green in the NBA Draft.  In addition to losing Lewis, they also traded Ray Allen to the Boston Celtics on draft day, so they should have a lot of extra money to sign a couple veteran players to compliment these two rookies.

Posted by chowell | with no comments
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