10 Fun Facts from Last Night’s Games

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Stephen CurryMonday, November 4, 2013 marked yet another day of NBA basketball. Eight teams took part in four games, as three inter-conference battles and one clash between NBA championship contenders took the league by storm.

Here’s everything you need to know about what transpired.

SH Blog: Rodman visits North Korea again; Pierce was the catalyst in Celtics-Nets trade

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Hey everyone, I’m back in action this weekend. And what a story to welcome me back, too. A while back, Dennis Rodman visited Kim Jong-Un in North Korea, and this week, he went back. Once you think about it, this shouldn’t be all that surprising: like his father, Jong-Un is a big fan of the NBA, especially the 90′s Bulls (and also a big fan of looking at things). And the only 90′s Bull weird enough to want to go hang out with North Korea’s Dear Respected Leader would have to be Rodman, obviously. I doubt we’d see Toni Kukoc getting off the plane in Pyongyang, right?

Still, there’s few headlines weirder than Dennis Rodman sending Barack Obama a message from Kim Jong-Un. And I don’t think that’s going to change.

For more strictly basketball-related news, let’s get to all the latest from around the NBA:

  • Danny Ainge explained how the big Paul Pierce/Kevin Garnett trade went down to Bill Simmons of ESPN and Grantland. Here’s a summary from Nets Daily: “In a conversation with Bill Simmons, Danny Ainge talks about the trade that sent Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Jason Terry to the Nets, saying that a number of factors helped get the deal done, not the least of which was the “connection” Pierce has with Deron Williams and Jason Kidd: they share Jeff Schwartz as an agent. Ainge thinks the Schwartz connection was a big motivator for Pierce who in turn helped KG decide to give up his no-trade clause and join him in Brooklyn (although Ainge, from habit, referred to New Jersey as the Nets home.) “I also think that Paul has a connection with having the same agent as Deron Williams and Jason Kidd,” said the Celtics GM. “I think probably there was some discussion going on there. I don’t know that for sure, but my guess is that they had some conversation about it, that Paul was the one that talked KG into wanting to do the deal or letting go of his  no-trade clause to make the deal happen and that took some convincing.” “
  • rodmanDennis Rodman is still best buds with Kim Jong-Un, but this visit has even more bizarre undertones. Let’s go to Michael Martina of Reuters for the story: “Former U.S. basketball star Dennis Rodman returned on Saturday from his second visit to North Korea this year where he again met the reclusive country’s leader Kim Jong-un, but did not come back with jailed American missionary Kenneth Bae. The flamboyant former NBA star’s visit came after North Korea abruptly withdrew its invitation to Robert King, the U.S. special envoy on North Korean human rights issues, who was expected to head to Pyongyang in a bid to secure Bae’s release. Bae, 45, was sentenced to hard labour for 15 years in May for crimes against the state. He had been arrested in November after entering the North with a tour group and his health has been deteriorating since he was imprisoned. Though there had been speculations that during Rodman’s visit the detained American would be released, he said ahead of his visit he was going for “another basketball diplomacy tour”.”
  • DeAndre Liggins has been released from the Thunder after being charged on seven counts in a domestic abuse case, reports Matt Dinger of the Oklahoman. Details are inside the link, and they’re not pleasant. Here’s a quick summary of what’s going on: “Oklahoma City Thunder player DeAndre Liggins was charged with seven counts Friday, including counts of domestic abuse, kidnapping and domestic assault and battery, in connection with an incident at his home last month. Liggins was also released by the Thunder, general manager Sam Presti announced in a team-released statement.”
  • 220px-Kostas_Papanikolaou2011The Rockets have several players in the ongoing EuroBasket tournament, and Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle rounds up their performances: “Motiejunas might be the most interesting of the Rockets’ international players to watch. Motiejunas is expected to compete for a starting spot next to Howard, but still has not quite cracking the Lithuania starting lineup. Lithuania has relied heavily on Linas Kleiza and still does. Kleiza so far has played pretty much as he always had in the NBA, looking like a better player than he actually is (he is 6 of 21 through the first three games.) Playing sparingly off the bench, Motiejunas has shot pretty well, going 8 of 15, while playing an average of 13 minutes per game. He does look thicker from all the weight work he put in since last season, though not as much as teammate Jonas Valuncinas of the Raptors. Casspi and Israel have generally struggled in the tournament, though Casspi did come on a bit in the second half of Friday’s blowout loss to France, one of the tournament favorites, finishing with 14 points on 3 of 8 shooting. In his three games, Casspi has made just 7 of 30 shots, though that includes his dreadful opener when he went 1 of 10 inside the arc against Great Britain. He won’t be taking 10 shots inside the 3-point line with the Rockets too often. He’s 4 of 14 on 3s so far. The Rockets might be watching the play of Spain’s Sergio Llull and Greece’s Kostas Papanikolaou, players not of the roster whose rights they hold, even more closely. Papanikolao, whose rights the Rockets acquired in the trade that sent Thomas Robinson to Portland, did not do much in the tournament opener, but had 10 points in 21 minutes against the strong Russian frontcourt. Llull has already established himself as a solid prospect and has played well in Fiba events, but has gotten off to a slow start this week. He made 1 of 4 shots in the blowout of Croatia and went just 1 of 3 in the upset loss to Goran Dragic and Slovenia. A 6-4 guard, Llull’s strong play for Real Madrid has earned the sort of contract that the Rockets were not ready to offer until he is ready for a significant role, but he should make the jump in a year or two making him someone worth watching.”
  • Brett Pollakoff of NBC Sports’ ProBasketballTalk tells us which player Hakeem Olajuwon thinks he could do a lot with: “With so many players having come to him for advice, Olajuwon was asked if there’s a particular player he’d like to work with. While he mentioned Kevin Durant, it was Blake Griffin whom Olajuwon seemed to think could benefit the most from his teachings. From George Kiel III of Nice Kicks: “I don’t know that I would like to, but a player that needs [my help] is Blake Griffin. If you look at Blake, he’s very explosive, but he needs the moves that can get him in that position where he can finish. [...] So he would be an ideal guy to where, when I watch him play and I see how explosive he is, I’d give him all of these moves to take him to a whole different level.” Griffin’s game has improved since he came into the NBA, but he often relies on his physicality more than anything else when trying to score from the low block inside. He has shown an ability to have a nice shooting touch, and you could see how using Olajuwon’s help in getting the footwork down on that Dream Shake would be devastating for his defenders to deal with.”
  • Michael BeasleyWord came out earlier today that the Heat were considering signing Michael Beasley, via Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports: “The two-time defending NBA champion Miami Heat are considering the possibility of bringing back troubled free-agent forward Michael Beasley, league sources told Yahoo Sports. Several of the Heat’s key veteran players are supportive of the signing of Beasley, and he has a strong interest in returning to the franchise responsible for taking him with the second overall pick in the 2008 NBA draft, sources told Yahoo. No offer has been made and no deal is considered imminent, sources said.”
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Dan Malone is in his fourth year as a journalism student at the University of King’s College in Halifax, Nova Scotia, and spent this summer as a features intern at the Cape Cod Times. He blogs, edits and learns things on the fly for Sheridan Hoops. Follow him on Twitter.

Eurobasket ’13 Group A Preview

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Group AEuroBasket_2013_logo

Likely To Advance

Flag_of_France.svg1. France

With likely MVP candidate, Tony Parker, leading the way for the French squad, Les Blues are the runaway favorites to take group A. While France may be missing a trio of NBA  bigs, Joakim Noah, Ronny Turiaf and Kevin Seraphin, they have by far the most talented roster in this group, and are a virtual lock to earn a bid to the World Cup.

After getting knocked off by Spain in the quarterfinals of the Olympics, Parker and company will be coming with a vengeance to prove that this generation of Frenchmen is among Europe’s elite. Nicolas Batum, who has come into his own over the last few years, and Boris Diaw, give France loads of versatility at multiple positions.

France will seek to avenge last years loss to Spain

France will seek to avenge last years loss to Spain

For France to be a true contender for the gold medal, Spurs guard Nando De Colo will need to have a breakout summer to prove that he is among the top European guards in the game today. After playing sparingly last year for the Spurs, taking a back seat to Parker as the team missed an NBA title by one offensive rebound, De Colo will get a chance to remind the Spurs staff of his abilities with meaningful minutes. As the X-Factor for a loaded team, this is the time for De Colo to show what he can do.

Team France shouldn’t have any problems breezing its way through the group play. However, its sights are set much higher than a solid start. Anything less than a semi-finals appearance will be considered a failure for the French side, as this group is supposed to represent the “golden age” of French hoops, and with a can’t-miss superstar like Tony Parker, expectations are high.

Flag_of_Israel.svg2. Israel

While folks in Israel will be celebrating the Jewish high holidays of Rosh Hashanna and Yom Kippur, the Israeli national team will be donning its white and blue uniforms, hoping to bring some pride to a country that has had only one quarterfinals appearance in Eurobasket since 1995. While Israeli league MVP, Gal Mekel, will be in Dallas trying to work his way into the rotation in his rookie season, Coach Arik Shivek will not be short on talent at the Eurobasket.

Houston Rockets forward Omri Casspi will be coming hungry to prove himself after seldom playing for Cleveland last season. (He made our list of the Top 10 Worst Free Agent Signings.) As an aggressive forward, Casspi has significantly improved his face-up game to go along with a solid outside shot. Being fortunate enough to land in arguably the weakest group, the Israeli squad should be able to pull together to earn a bid to the second stage.220px-Omri_gasspi_israel-finland

Casspi won’t be the only player eager to prove himself on the Israeli squad. After Maccabi Tel-Aviv exercised the buyout option on Lior Eliyahu, the lanky, athletic forward has an opportunity to play himself into a big opportunity with a strong performance in the Eurobasket. The Minnesota Timberwolves hold Eliyahu’s draft rights, and they could consider bringing Eliyahu to camp (or moving him to another team with interest) if he has a good showing.  Plus, there will be several Euroleague teams that will be desperate for a proven performer heading into October.

While Casspi and Eliyahu may be the team’s leaders, the X-Factors, as with many teams, will come at point guard and center. Maccabi Tel-Aviv point guard, Yogev Ohayon, who many in Israel consider to be a legit NBA prospect, will look to regain some momentum after struggling down the stretch last season.  Perhaps even more critical will be the health of center, Alex Tyus, an American from St. Louis who converted to Judaism and became an Israeli citizen last summer, as he is the best rebounder and shot-blocker on the squad. Tyus, who will be playing for Maccabi Tel-Aviv this season, was an absolute monster against our club, Maccabi Rishon Lezion, two years ago in the semifinals, knocking us out of an opportunity to play for a championship with his superb defensive play.

The players may be missing out on dipping apples in honey with their families, but they certainly will be looking to bring some proud smiles home as they ring in the Jewish New Year.

Flag_of_Ukraine.svg3. Ukraine

Led by longtime NBA coach, Mike Fratello, the Ukrainian squad should be able to scratch and claw its way into the second stage of the tournament. With Eugene “Pooh” Jeter, a former NBA player who is one of the best Americans hooping overseas, recently getting citizenship and

Pooh and I chilling at Joe and Jordan Crawfords IHX Camp in Detroit

Pooh and I chilling at Joe and Jordan Crawford’s IHX Camp in Detroit

joining the national team, Ukraine will have a big-time difference maker running the show.

Jeter will be flanked by a big front line that will include Viacheslav Kravstov, who was recently traded to the Phoenix Suns in the Caron Butler deal. Kravstov is a big body, and a great shot blocker, and he will need to step up his game to give Ukraine a chance to make a splash in this tournament.

While Fratello may be able to drag this rag-tag group into the second stage, it will take a miracle to get them any further. However, for this team, making it out of the first stage will be a great accomplishment.

Headin’ Home Early

Flag_of_Belgium.svg4. Belgium

Belgium was counting on naturalized citizen, Matt Lojeski, to bolster its squad with the hopes of advancing to the second round. Unfortunately, Lojeski will miss the Eurobasket with an injury, leaving the Belgians shorthanded in their campaign.

Spearheaded by Spanish league forward, Axel Hervelle, the Belgian group can still make some noise if a few bounces go their way. Point guard, Sam Van Rossom, who also plays in Spain with Valencia, will need to have a spectacular tournament for this group to advance. The Belgians may not be the most talented team, but they play hard and they play together, and this team should remain competitive despite missing a key performer.

Flag_of_Germany.svg5. Germany

If Belgium feels shorthanded, then Germany probably feels like they don’t have a hand at all. Not only are Dirk Nowitzki and Chris Kaman sitting this one out, NBA rookies, Dennis Schroeder and Elias Harris, have opted to forgo the national team to prepare for the upcoming NBA season. Adding insult to injury, national team veteran, Jan Jagla, also will be taking a break this summer.

This should give ample opportunity for Tibor Pleiss, an up-and-coming big man, to prove himself as an elite performer. The Thunder hold the rights to Pleiss, a 2010 second round pick, and this could be his chance to play himself back onto the NBA radar.

Flag_of_the_United_Kingdom.svg6. United Kingdom

After struggling to compete as the host of the 2012 Olympics, Great Britain will be returning only one starter to a team that only managed one win last summer. Daniel Clark will be expected to lead a squad that will be missing the likes of Luol Deng, Joel Freeland and Pops Mensa-Bonsu, without much help on the way.

Despite bringing in a great coach, Joe Prunty, and adding Guy Goodes, a former superstar point guard and one of the best assistant coaches in the world, it will be very hard to get wins with a team so devoid of talent. With the Euroleague making a clear attempt to try to popularize basketball in the UK by bringing the Final Four to London, Great Britain has a chance to develop into a nice program down the line. Unfortunately, that seems pretty far off in the distance at the moment.

GROUP B PREVIEW  |  GROUP C PREVIEW  |  GROUP D PREVIEW

WATCH ALL THE EUROBASKET GAMES LIVE. BETTER COVERAGE THAN ESPN, WHICH IS COVERING GAMES FROM BRISTOL, CONN. EUROBASKET-TV IS ON SITE.

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Bernucca: The 10 Worst Offseason Free Agent Signings

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DanGilbertPresser100515-300x189Whenever the NBA and the Players Association negotiate a collective bargaining agreement, the media – including Sheridan Hoops – goes to great lengths to understand and explain its rules, exceptions and nuances.

But since the first wave of players began making the jump from high school to the NBA in the mid-1990s, the premise of every new CBA could be summed up in six words: To save the owners from themselves.

Restraint never has been the collective strength of NBA owners. In every CBA, they have installed mechanisms that mandate restraint and prevent them from spending stupidly.

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NBA Players React to Boston Marathon Tragedy

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Tragedy struck in Boston on Monday afternoon when two bombs exploded near the finish line to the 2013 Boston Marathon.

Below is a video of President Barack Obama’s response followed by the Twitter reaction from the NBA.

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