Miami Heat News: Heat Sign PF Khem Birch

The Miami Heat have signed yet another big. The Heat announced early Sunday through their official website that they have signed 6’9″ forward Khem Birch to round their roster to a total of 17 players. As per club policy, details of the deal were not disclosed.
Birch is an undrafted rookie. The UNLV product averaged a double-double with the Rebels during the 2013-14 season, posting averages of 11.5 points and 10.2 rebounds per game. Birch provides Miami with a much-needed defensive presence as he was named the Mountain West Defensive Player of the Year and finished second in the NCAA in blocks per game and total blocks (124).
OFFICIAL: The @MiamiHEAT have signed F Khem Birch. http://t.co/1WsiChHQoA
— Miami HEAT (@MiamiHEAT) September 14, 2014
Despite going undrafted in the 2014 NBA Draft, Birch impressed the Heat enough during his Summer League stint with the Washington Wizards. The forward averaged 5.0 points, 5.7 rebounds and 1.17 blocks in six games (all starts) during the 2014 Ve…

View full post on Yardbarker: NBA

Miami Heat News: Heat Meet With Ryan Hollins

Add Ryan Hollins to the list of potential players that might sign with the Miami Heat over the coming days.
According to Yahoo Sports, the Heat met with free agent center Ryan Hollins on Friday. Erik Spoelstra and his staff were involved in the meeting. Per the report, the Heat aren’t the only team that has interest in the eight-year veteran — the San Antonio Spurs, Sacramento Kings and Chicago Bulls are also interested in signing Hollins.
Free agent center @TheRyanHollins met with the Heat on Friday, sources tell Yahoo Sports. Kings, Bulls & Spurs also have interest in Hollins
— Marc J. Spears (@SpearsNBAYahoo) September 7, 2014
The Heat’s interest in Hollins follows reports over the past week in which Miami worked out Nazr Mohammed and potentially met with Andray Blatche. Regardless of which player the Heat plan to sign, this report follows the trend of Miami looking to fill out their depth by signing one more veteran big. At the current moment,  the Heat’s depth at the five a…

View full post on Yardbarker: NBA

Kenneth Faried Contract: Latest News and Rumors on Negotiations with Nuggets

Kenneth Faried has been a dominant force for Team USA at the FIBA World Cup thus far, but his long-term status with the Denver Nuggets is very much up in the air.

The relentless power forward is set to become a restricted free agent at the end of the 2014-15 season, but there is still time for he and the Nuggets to hammer out a contract extension.

According to ESPN.com’s Marc Stein, the deadline to get a deal done is on Oct. 31:

The 24-year-old star is arguably coming off the best season of his three-year career as he averaged nearly 14 points and nine rebounds in 2013-14, while shooting just under 55 percent from the field. He was a key player for the Nuggets, and Stein believes he would like to remain in Denver:

With his contract situation looming last season, Faried was often the subject of trade rumors. Although he didn’t seem to let the speculation bother him from a production standpoint, Faried admitted that it did have an impact on him, per Stein:

While Faried’s value to the Nuggets has been obvious since being drafted 22nd overall in 2011, it can be argued that he has started to reach that next level of play this summer with Team USA. Most expected Faried to be a role player under head coach Mike Krzyzewski, but he has been one of the driving forces behind the United States’ success.

As pointed out by Chris Sheridan of SheridanHoops.com, it is almost as if Faried can’t miss a shot right now in Spain:

International basketball is certainly a far cry from the NBA, but there is no question that Faried is improving his profile and driving his value up in the process.

Despite that, not everyone is of the belief that Faried deserves to be paid like an elite player. Sean Pendergast of SportsRadio 610 is among those who feel Faried won’t necessarily be able to live up to a monster contract:

It remains to be seen if the Nuggets feel the same way, but all signs point to them wanting to bring the hard-nosed forward back for next season and beyond.

At the end of the 2013-14 campaign, Nuggets general manager Tim Connelly had nothing but good things to say about the free-agent-to-be, according to Christopher Dempsey of The Denver Post.

Kenneth was great. I think there was an adjustment period with Kenneth and (head coach) Brian (Shaw). And for the last couple of months he was playing at as high a level as anybody. He’s the heart and soul of our team. His consistent energy and toughness, I was really happy to see. I think he grew this year. I think he really improved on both ends, not just the offensive end. He’s a guy that’s going to play a huge role in our success moving forward. … I’m hopeful that we’ll have good discussions this summer with his representation and we’ll see if we can’t figure something out.

Nothing has come of those negotiations quite yet, but one can only assume that they will be ongoing until the bitter end. Faried is a player with a unique mix of skill and tenacity, and he is the type of guy who is going to give maximum effort each and every night.

It can be argued that his statistical production will never reach top-flight levels, but he contributes to the team in so many ways intangibly that it is tough to measure his true worth.

With that said, Faried is playing better than ever for Team USA, and he has shown plenty of growth since entering the NBA. That means the best may be yet to come in terms of his scoring and rebounding contributions.

Faried may want to stay in Denver, but he should also do everything he can to get fair value. If the Nuggets truly view him as an integral part of the organization’s future, then they’ll find a way to get something done in the next two months.

 

Follow @MikeChiari on Twitter

Read more NBA news on BleacherReport.com

View full post on Bleacher Report – NBA

Nebraska assistant’s sick son gets good news

Avery Harriman will put a smile on your face.

      
 

 

View full post on USATODAY – NCAA Top Stories

Lakers News: Byron Scott Is Smart to Make Julius Randle’s Development a Priority

On a team that is not expected to be very good, the Los Angeles Lakers must focus on developing for the future. Fortunately, new head coach Byron Scott seems to understand where the priorities are.

In an interview with Mike Trudell of Lakers.com, the coach had a lot of good things to say about first-round pick Julius Randle:

I see a young man that’s raw, but he has great feet and great quickness for his size, and he’s strong as a bull. You can tell that he wants to get better. Next week we’ll have a better idea, because he’ll be in better shape and be able to work even harder. But I love those attributes, being strong, big and quick for his size. That’s a very good combination to have.

This is not the first time Scott had good things to say about the No. 7 overall pick in the 2014 draft, who he considered a steal:

He also compared him to Zach Randolph during an interview on The Dan Patrick Show:

However, the most important part of his talk with Trudell came when discussing playing time for the rookie, saying, ”Julius will get plenty of chances to play a lot of minutes. We know he’s a rookie and needs to develop, and a lot of that will come in training camp and in practice. I think he’ll do just that.” 

The problem many players have in their first season is simply getting onto the court. Last year’s No. 1 overall pick, Anthony Bennett, came under a lot of scrutiny for his poor numbers, but a lot of that was due to only getting 12.8 minutes per game. With his numbers per 36 minutes, Bennett averaged a respectable 11.8 points and 8.4 rebounds.

Still, young prospects need playing time in order to improve. You can only learn so much in practice, but learning through mistakes can help you speed up your development. Not every rookie has that luxury, especially those on teams looking to contend for titles.

This is what makes Randle’s situation such an encouraging one. While everyone wants to be on a winning team, a squad that finished 27-55 and lost Pau Gasol is likely headed toward another losing season. Even with Carlos Boozer and a healthy Kobe Bryant, this could be a long year in Los Angeles.

Shane Young of Hoops Habit thinks Randle will get extra minutes despite a number of other players capable of playing the position:

Even if he struggles, just getting him on the floor will give him a chance to improve. This is more important for the Lakers’ success in the future than winning a few more games in 2014-15.

On the plus side, Randle appears ready to be productive right away. Will Brinson of CBS Sports agreed with Scott’s assertion that the Lakers got a steal with their draft pick:

The forward showed off his ability in summer league after dominating college basketball as a freshman for Kentucky. He has loads of natural skill and the strength to be a force in the low post. Veterans like Bryant and Boozer will also help him get to where he needs to be.

Scott needs to do whatever it takes to help Randle reach his potential as a perennial All-Star. This should be one of the top priorities of the season, even if it comes at the expense of winning games. The fact the coach is willing to work with the young player and get him on the floor is a great sign for the future.

 

Follow Rob Goldberg on Twitter for the latest breaking news and analysis.

Follow TheRobGoldberg on Twitter

Read more NBA news on BleacherReport.com

View full post on Bleacher Report – NBA

Miami Heat News: Barbosa, Heat Have Mutual Interest

As the Miami Heat look to fill out the rest of their training camp roster — Miami currently has 16 players heading into training camp, with a league maximum of 20 — it looks as if former Phoenix Suns guard Leandro Barbosa has indicated interest in playing for the Heat.
There’s mutual interest between Leandro Barbosa and the Miami Heat, according to league sources. Don’t be surprised if he signs with them.
— Alex Kennedy (@AlexKennedyNBA) August 19, 2014

Although Barbosa is nearing the tail end of his prime, he could really add to the Heat’s second unit with his speed and scoring ability. Barbosa averaged 7.5 points in 18.4 minutes of action on the Suns last season and is currently playing for Brazil in the FIBA World Cup.
Say what you want about Barbosa, but he would fortify the spot behind Dwyane Wade that currently has rookies Tyler Johnson and James Ennis serving as backups.
If Barbosa were to sign with the Heat, he would have to sign on a league minimum, and most probably a non…

View full post on Yardbarker: NBA

Lakers News: Latest on Coaching Staff, Criticism of Carlos Boozer

There will be few teams in the NBA under more pressure than the Los Angeles Lakers during the 2014-15 campaign. The historic franchise finished last year with a 27-55 record and looked downright lost on the floor at times. 

To make matters worse, the Los Angeles Clippers are filled with talent and could contend with the Oklahoma City Thunder and San Antonio Spurs for supremacy in the loaded Western Conference.

How will Kobe Bryant and company respond? To get a better idea, let’s look at some of the latest news out of Los Angeles.

 

Coaching Staff Addition

Ramona Shelburne of ESPN.com filled fans in on the latest regarding Byron Scott’s coaching staff:

Adding Jim Eyen to the staff isn’t going to move the needle much, but it is a solid addition because of his experience. This Lakers team is going to need to make an immense jump if it wants to make the playoffs, so placing a 22-year NBA veteran on the bench is sure to help.

What’s more is Eyen is familiar with the bright lights of Los Angeles. He began his professional career with the Los Angeles Clippers as an assistant coach in 1988 and moved to the Lakers after that. He served as an assistant under Pat Riley and then Mike Dunleavy for years.

Most recently, Eyen was with the Sacramento Kings, so there is familiarity with the Pacific Division in the Western Conference. 

Eyen may not be able to help the Lakers grab more rebounds or contain Kevin Durant, Tony Parker and the rest of the West, but he provides some valuable experience and could help mentor young players like Julius Randle.

 

Carlos Boozer: Worst Newcomer?

ESPN.com ran an exercise it dubbed as the summer forecast where it predicted things like the 2014-15 standings and the MVP and also ranked certain categories like worst newcomer. Unfortunately for Lakers fans, Carlos Boozer was deemed the worst newcomer of the entire offseason.

Boozer posted nightly averages of 13.7 points and 8.3 rebounds last year for the Chicago Bulls, but he is still a weak link on the defensive end. Tom Thibodeau played Taj Gibson down the stretch of close games in place of Boozer because Gibson was the much better defender and controlled the paint in a way Boozer simply couldn’t with a lack of athleticism.

What’s more, the Lakers drafted Randle as their power forward/center of the future. Boozer’s presence could theoretically cut into the Kentucky product’s minutes and hamper his important development.

Still, calling the proven NBA veteran the worst newcomer of the entire offseason is a bit harsh.

Boozer still has a solid mid-range jumper, which could be particularly effective with newcomer Jeremy Lin. Remember, Scott led the New Orleans Hornets to the playoffs with pick-and-roll plays utilizing Chris Paul and David West. He also led the New Jersey Nets to the NBA Finals with the same strategy with Jason Kidd and Kenyon Martin.

It’s not that far-fetched to imagine a scenario where Boozer averages double-digit points a night popping off picks for Lin.

For his part, Boozer seemed excited to be in Los Angeles. However, he did ironically bring up his failure to get past the Lakers in the playoffs as a member of the Utah Jazz, via Dave McMenamin of ESPNLosAngeles.com:

I was frustrated, to be quite frank. We wanted to beat them. We felt we had a good team in Utah. We fell short, obviously, but it was frustrating because you want to get to the mountain top and you keep getting stopped by the same team. But like I said, I admired them because you got to respect your opponent and I’ve always respected the Lakers very much. So, it’s good to be on this side of it and hopefully we can have success. 

Boozer probably won’t have to worry about the playoffs in the loaded Western Conference this year, though, unless he and the Lakers greatly surpass expectations.

 

Follow me on Twitter:

Read more NBA news on BleacherReport.com

View full post on Bleacher Report – NBA

Doc Rivers Contract: Latest News and Rumors on Negotiations with Clippers

Amid a landmark, positive day for their franchise, the Los Angeles Clippers are the topic of more good news on Tuesday.   

Now that the Clippers have officially been sold to new owner Steve Ballmer for $2 billion, according to a statement on their team website, head coach Doc Rivers is reportedly ready to enter negotiations on a new contract soon.

Yahoo Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski has the scoop:

Ballmer shared his thoughts on joining forces with Rivers when the sale went through Tuesday.

“The topic of conversation with Doc earlier was to focus in on what does it take and how can I help support him in achieving our mutual mission and in a pretty intense way continue to improve, be tenacious,” said Ballmer, per The Associated Press’ Beth Harris, via The Boston Globe. “If we do all that, good things will come our way.”

Interim Clippers CEO Dick Parsons doubted Rivers would remain in L.A. if Donald Sterling retained control of the team, and emphasized the importance of the coach’s presence, per ESPN.com’s Ramona Shelburne:

If Doc were to leave, that would be a disaster. Doc is the father figure of the team. Chris [Paul] is the on-court captain of the team. But Doc is really the guy who leads the effort. He’s the coach, the grown-up, he’s a man of character and ability — not just in a basketball sense, but in the ability to connect with people and gain their trust. The team believes in him and admires and loves him. If he were to bail, with all the other circumstances, it would accelerate the death spiral.

Rivers brings a championship pedigree that the Clippers’ heritage has mostly lacked. Now fans can breathe a sigh of relief, because Ballmer’s governorship seems to open the door for Rivers to remain L.A. for the long haul.

Fox Sports’ Jimmy Spencer regards Rivers as one of the premier coaches in the Association:

Earlier this offseason, the Clippers named Rivers their president of basketball operations, increasing not only his responsibility but also his influence in shaping the franchise into an NBA title contender. More sway in personnel decisions gives Rivers a significant amount of autonomous power, but if his vision comes to fruition to the point of lifting a Larry O’Brien Trophy, it will certainly all be justified.

Even before Rivers will have a chance to finish out the last two seasons of his three-year, $21 million deal, it appears L.A.’s front office is ready to invest in him under the presumption he’ll succeed.

While the Clippers’ roster does sport All-Stars in point guard Chris Paul and power forward Blake Griffin as cornerstones, plenty of work remains. Getting over the hump in the loaded Western Conference is a tremendous challenge, one that Rivers likely needs a new contract to surmount.

That’s why this intention to lock Rivers up long term is key. A better working relationship between the team’s new ownership regime under Ballmer and the chief of the organization will benefit Rivers in a big way.

Judging by this swift action to secure Rivers beyond the next two years, it’s clear the Clippers are convinced he can take them to the promised land.

Read more NBA news on BleacherReport.com

View full post on Bleacher Report – NBA

Lakers News: Latest on Byron Scott’s Expectations and Kobe Bryant

The once-proud Los Angeles Lakers turned in a disappointing 27-55 campaign in 2013-14 and certainly have their work cut out for them if they hope to make the playoffs in the loaded Western Conference this season.

The offseason has been relatively quiet after missing out on the big fish, although the team did add Carlos Boozer and trade for Jeremy Lin. It’s not exactly LeBron James or Carmelo Anthony (or even the departed Pau Gasol for that matter), but August is a time for a glass-half-full approach.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at some of the latest news from Los Angeles.

 

Byron Scott’s Expectations

New coach Byron Scott recently made an appearance on The Dan Patrick Show, and Eric Pincus of the Los Angeles Times passed along some of the key quotes:

I expect us to compete every night,” said Byron Scott on radio Thursday to “The Dan Patrick Show.”  The Lakers are “going to play a tough, physical brand of basketball and we’re going to play defense.”

“It’s going to be a tough road for us.  We have a lot of work to do,” he said.  “I don’t know how good we’re going to be.  I’ve got a lot of guys that I don’t really know.  I’ve got to get to know these guys and see what makes them tick — but I’ve got one guy that I do know what makes him tick and that’s a great piece to have.

It is worth mentioning that Scott would not go on record saying that his team would make the playoffs, which is probably for the best. There is no reason to put any added pressure on a team that already faces the expectations that come with wearing the Lakers jersey, even in a year when the talent simply doesn’t match up.

Still, Los Angeles will get Kobe Bryant back, which will immediately boost its postseason chances. He is one of the best players of all time and can be an elite scorer, even when he turns 36 later this month.

Just look for more perimeter jumpers and high-post moves in favor of attacking the rim.

Throw in Boozer’s potential for a double-double every night and the development of young Julius Randle, and the Lakers will have something of a post presence. Randle can score down low and outmuscle people for rebounds, while Boozer can stretch the floor with his mid-range jumper.

If Scott’s system leads to improvement on the defensive end, the Lakers may just surprise some people.

 

Kevin Durant Passes Kobe Bryant

Pincus also pointed out in a different report that Bryant is no longer the most popular NBA player among rookies:

After receiving 21.2% of the vote a year ago to the question, “Who is your favorite player in the league?” — Bryant received 19.4% from the 2014 rookie class.

Durant led the field with 25.0% of the votes. Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James trailed Bryant at 12.5%, followed by Carmelo Anthony (8.3%) of the New York Knicks and Paul George (5.6%) of the Indiana Pacers and Kyrie Irving (5.6%) of the Cavaliers.

Bryant may have been passed by Kevin Durant, but it is a testament to his overall popularity and place within the game’s hierarchy that he is still so high on the list. Remember, he only played in six games during the 2013-14 campaign and is still ahead of LeBron James, who has dominated offseason headlines and is generally regarded as the best player in the league.

It will be interesting to watch going forward if this new crop of rookies (along with last year’s) mimics Bryant’s game in the same way that the Laker guard mimicked Michael Jordan’s. For context, there is an incredible video that has made the rounds on YouTube comparing the two greats, and Bryant himself even pointed out the circle of basketball life: 

 

Bryant came into the league when Jordan was on the tail end of his career with the Chicago Bulls, and this year’s crop of rookies joins the NBA right when Bryant is likely entering the twilight of his career. 

The young guys could do much worse than modeling their games after a five-time champion and one of the best players of all time.

 

Follow me on Twitter:

Read more NBA news on BleacherReport.com

View full post on Bleacher Report – NBA

NBA Free Agency 2014: Start Date, Rumors, News and More

The 2014 NBA offseason has only just begun.

Tuesday marks the opening of the free-agency period, and due to the immense amount of talent on the open market this year, expect plenty of action right from the start.

As coaches and team executives prepare to make offers to their most coveted targets, fans wait with bated breath to find out where their favorite players will eventually call home.

With the free-agency period just getting underway, let’s take a look at some of the latest rumors and news circulating around the web.

 

Rumors

Plenty of big names are on the market, and Marcin Gortat is near the top of the list. Last season with the Washington Wizards, the center averaged 13.2 points and 9.5 rebounds per game while shooting 54.2 percent from the field.

Needless to say, he’s a hot commodity.

One team reported to have interest in Gortat is the Cleveland Cavaliers, according to Terry Pluto of The Cleveland Plain Dealer:

I’ve heard Marcin Gortat mentioned in connection with the Cavs, but he will be hot item on the market. The 6′ 11″, 240-pounder is a physical center. He averaged 13.2 points and 9.5 rebounds in 33 minutes a game for Washington, and the Wizards really want to keep him. Any contender would love to have Gortat, because he sets serious picks and loves to defend.

We’ll find out soon enough if the Wizards will be able to hang on to their center, or if he’ll be wearing new team colors next season.

Another hot name on the market is Trevor Ariza.

Ariza is also coming off a great season for the Wizards, averaging 14.4 points, 6.2 rebounds and 2.5 assists per game while shooting 45.6 percent from the floor and 40.7 percent from downtown.

According to a tweet from Marc J. Spears of Yahoo Sports, Ariza is highly coveted:

After his impressive season during the Wizards’ run into the playoffs, expect a bidding war to ensue for the talented small forward.

The Indiana Pacers had a bit of a roller-coaster season, and the team’s inconsistent play carried over into the playoffs. If they are to improve this coming season, keeping Lance Stephenson in the fold should be a top priority.

Apparently Indiana agrees with that notion and will be pulling out all of the stops to keep him around, according to a tweet from Candace Buckner of the Indianapolis Star:

The Pacers may have to dig deep into their pockets to keep their star around, as Stephenson could be looking for a max contract.

 

News

While free agency could mean a new beginning for some players, it could mark the end for others.

That’s the case for 17-year veteran Chauncey Billups, as Vincent Ellis of the Detroit Free Press tweeted the Detroit Pistons would not be opting to keep him around:

During his NBA career, Billups played in 1,043 games, averaging 15.2 points, 2.9 rebounds and 5.4 assists per game while shooting 41.5 percent from the field.

While this news may signify the end of Billups’ playing career, it may also be the beginning of his next chapter in life, according to David Mayo of MLive.com:

The Celtics are looking to make big waves in free agency this year. The team floundered terribly in a bad Eastern Conference last season, and president Danny Ainge is looking to prevent that from happening again.

Here’s what Ainge had to say about the Celtics’ role in free agency, via Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe:

The Cavaliers are looking to keep one of their own from heading to another city.

Kyrie Irving may not be a free agent this year, but he’s slated to become a restricted free agent in 2015, and according to early reports that he was disgruntled with the team, things weren’t looking good for his future in Cleveland.

Well, that appears to have changed.

According to Chris Broussard of ESPN, the Cavaliers appear to be offering Irving a max contract:

That alone may not be newsworthy due to the fact Irving may be inclined to reject the offer and leave Cleveland; however, Broussard tweeted otherwise:

Apparently, David Blatt is already making a big impact for the Cavaliers.

These are just a handful of recent happenings around the NBA—there’s plenty more news and rumors circulating at this time of year. With a whirlwind of activity expected within the next few days, expect a wild ride to ensue.

Read more NBA news on BleacherReport.com

View full post on Bleacher Report – NBA

Next Page »