For some, it may be difficult to fathom that 12 years have already gone by since Jason Kidd landed with the Nets through an offseason trade with the Suns, and that tonight, the franchise is honoring him by retiring his No. 5 uniform (video link via USA Today) in the rafters. Once he arrived in New Jersey in 2001, Kidd appeared more than ready for the revitalization process and leadership role on a team that had missed the playoffs in six of the last seven seasons prior to his arrival:
“(He) told the players, ‘I don’t care what went on here before. We will make the playoffs,’” recalled Rod Thorn, the team president who had made the trade. “Guys were looking at Jason like, ‘What the heck are you talking about?” (ESPN New York’s Ian O’Connor).
The team would go on to win 52 games that season en route to two straight Finals appearances and six consecutive playoff berths. Though Kidd would ultimately fall short of leading the Nets to an NBA title as a player, he now takes on the opportunity of coaching a team with championship aspirations. How far he’ll lead Brooklyn this year remains to be seen, but it’s clear that Kidd could be in the midst of his most special chapter with the Nets’ franchise. Here are some of tonight’s miscellaneous news and notes:
- Newsday’s Roderick Boone found that Heat superstar LeBron James wouldn’t comment on whether or not the Nets could contend for a title along with the Heat. Dwyane Wade, on the other hand, had this to say: “(Brooklyn) they did what they said they were going to do. They want to compete for a championship” (Twitter links).
- Jason Lloyd of Ohio.com reports that Cavaliers center Andrew Bynum is now near his usual playing weight of 285 lbs and is inching closer to a return to the court.
- Earlier tonight, Cavs coach Mike Brown revealed that first overall pick Anthony Bennett has been dealing with asthma and sleep apnea (ESPN via the Associated Press). Though Brown says that the breathing issues are noticeable, it doesn’t appear that it’ll affect the way he tries to use Bennett in his rotation this season: “It’s been tiring to watch him because every time I watch him he’s (gasping)…It makes me tired, so I try not to look at him. I tell him, `If you need a sub, just tell me. Otherwise I’m not going to look at you.”
- Trail Blazers forward Nicolas Batum calls Joel Freeland his “training camp MVP,” while head coach Terry Stotts admits that the 6’11 center has had a good training camp thus far. Joe Freeman of the Oregonian writes that Freeman’s quiet transition into a Nick Collison-type of player could produce an opportunity to find a spot in Stotts’ rotation.
- Nuggets coach Brian Shaw likes what he sees in Wilson Chandler, and team GM Tim Connelly was quick to name him as the most likely to have a breakout year: “He got here about two months ago. He’s in great shape. He’s got the right mindset. Playing for a guy like coach Shaw could really allow him to take that next step” (Aaron J. Lopez of Nuggets.com).
As news comes in about D-League assignments and recalls today, we'll track it here, with the latest news at the top. Keep tabs on all of this year's D-League assignments and recalls by bookmarking our updated list.
- The Blazers have recalled Joel Freeland and Victor Claver from the Idaho Stampede, the Blazers announced via Twitter. They were sent down Friday, prompting Freeland's agent to express displeasure with the move. Blazers GM Neil Olshey responded by saying both Freeland and Claver indicated to him that they were enthusiastic about the opportunity for playing time, and both saw heavy minutes the last two nights for the Stampede. The Oregonian's Joe Freeman reported last night that the recalls were expected to take place (Twitter link).
- The Rockets have recalled rookie Terrence Jones from the D-League, the team announced. Jones was sent down to the Rio Grande Valley Vipers on Friday, but didn't appear in Saturday's game. He'll be active for Houston's game against Toronto today, according to the Rockets. The Rockets sent fellow rookie Donatas Motiejunas down on Friday along with Jones, but Motiejunas remains at Rio Grande Valley, as does Scott Machado, who's been there since his assignment on November 30th.
Thunder guard Kevin Martin is enjoying a "perfect opportunity" in Oklahoma City, after getting traded from Houston in the offseason, writes The Sacramento Bees' Jason Jones.
- On the recent news that the Grizzlies have hired ESPN.com's John Hollinger to join their front office, Nuggets head coach George Karl believes within a few years every team will have a statistician on board, writes the Denver Post's Adrian Dater.
- Responding to words from Joel Freeland's agent, in response to his supposed disappointment about being assigned to the Trail Blazers D-League affiliate Idaho Stampede, CSNNW.com's Chris Haynes spoke with Portland general manager Neil Olshey, who believes Freeland and Victor Claver were actually excited to get a playing opportunity.
Notes out of the Western Conference..
- Lakers fans are clearly frustrated with how the season has gone so far, but they should be grateful that they have Dwight Howard in the lineup rather than the sidelined Andrew Bynum, writes Dave McMenamin of ESPNLosAngeles.com. The Lakers will take on the Bynum-less Sixers on Sunday evening.
- Joel Freeland‘s camp told HoopsHype (via Twitter) that they are unhappy with his assignment to the D-League by the Blazers. Agent Rafa Calvo pointed out that Freeland has been one of the top big men in EuroLeague for three years and doesn’t need the extra time to adjust to the NBA. Despite that, Calvo says he and his client are trying to stay positive about the situation.
- Paul Ladewski of Sheridan Hoops wonders if the T’Wolves have a strong trading partner in the Bulls if they wind up moving Kevin Love. The Timberwolves might have an interest in power forward Nikola Mirotic who is widely considered to be the best player in Europe right now.
Here are Friday's D-League assignments and recalls:
- The Thunder have assigned Jeremy Lamb and Daniel Orton to their D-League affiliate, the team announced today in a press release. Oklahoma City has been making frequent use of the Tulsa 66ers this year in order to get its young players some minutes. It's the third assignment for Lamb and Orton.
- The Rockets are sending Donatas Motiejunas and Terrence Jones back to their D-League affiliate, tweets Mark Berman of FOX 26 Houston. It's the second time each player has been sent to the Rio Grande Valley Vipers this season.
- Victor Claver and Joel Freeland have been assigned to the Idaho Stampede, the Trail Blazers announced today (Twitter link). Claver was sent down to the D-League for two games earlier this month, while Freeland has yet to join the Stampede this season.
Chris Forsberg of ESPN Boston heard from head coach Doc Rivers that the Celtics could decide to recall Kris Joseph and possibly Fab Melo up from the D-League while Jeff Green and Chris Wilcox are out of action. More notably, after Danny Ainge told WEEI radio that Rajon Rondo would be given a two game suspension (Twitter link), Rivers gave the impression that the team won't necessarily try to make any subsequent roster moves anytime soon. You can find more of tonight's miscellaneous links from the Association here:
- HoopsWorld's Alex Kennedy says (via Twitter) that the Raptors are weighing their free agent options at the small forward position.
- Trail Blazers GM Neil Olshey told Joe Freeman of The Oregonian of his plans to use D-League assignments accordingly for Victor Claver, Joel Freeland, Will Barton, and Nolan Smith. While Olshey thinks that his young players are currently benefitting through their NBA experience, he believes the best time to send them to the Idaho Stampede (their D-League affiliate) would be after they have built a good enough foundation with the coaching staff and need significant minutes to continue developing.
- According to Anthony Slater of NewsOK, Thunder GM Sam Presti was spotted at Oklahoma State University's basketball practice to supposedly begin scouting Marcus Smart and Le'Bryan Nash, two college prospects who are currently touted as potential first round picks.
- The Nets announced that the right foot sprain which Brook Lopez suffered during last night's game is unrelated to the foot injury he sustained last season, and added that he is only expected to miss the next two games (Howard Beck of the New York Times reports).
The latest news and notes from the Northwest Division on Tuesday night:
The latest updates out of Portland from Trail Blazers training camp on Friday evening:
- Rookie guard Will Barton tells CSNNW.com's Chris Haynes that he will continue to sit out team practices until his sore hamstring is completely healed.
- Ben Golliver of Blazer's Edge reports that Jared Jeffries underwent the cutting-edge orthokine treatment popularized by Kobe Bryant and baseball star Alex Rodriguez.
- Head coach Terry Stotts tells The Oregonian's Joe Freeman that he will not name a starting center in the immediate future, preferring to create competition in training camp between Meyers Leonard, J.J. Hickson, and Joel Freeland.
- Freeman also reports that Stotts will not begin making cuts to the training-camp roster for another couple of weeks.
While Dave Deckard of Blazer's Edge thinks there's hope for the Trail Blazers in the near future, he also thinks a number of arguments frequently made by fans, players, or the media don't hold water. A team having a "great attitude" or "flying under the radar" doesn't mean a surprise season is coming, according to Deckard.
We have a handful of other Blazer notes to round up this morning, after GM Neil Olshey talked to Joe Becker on KGW on Sunday. Here are a few highlights from Olshey's comments, which Ben Golliver of Blazer's Edge transcribed:
- Olshey felt that Damian Lillard was not only the best fit for the Blazers at No. 6 overall in June's draft, but also the best player available when Portland picked. The GM expects the rookie point guard to be productive immediately.
- Victor Claver and Joel Freeland should bring a team-first mentality to the Blazers, according to Olshey, who notes that Nicolas Batum is excited about the club's style of play getting some "international flavor."
- Olshey on Batum's new contract leading to increased expectations: "I think Nic's going to embrace it. It was one of the reasons we were so anxious to embrace the offer sheet. When we met with Nic prior to him signing it, that was something he really wanted. He wanted to embrace being one of the leaders on the team. Having more responsibility on both ends of the ball."
- Olshey praised Blazers owner Paul Allen and said that his experience in Portland has been "incredible" so far.
- The Blazers GM mentioned that he was excited to see Blazers players in the gym recently, pointing out that LaMarcus Aldridge, who organized the voluntary workouts, has been a "solid voice of leadership for the young guys."