Posts Tagged ‘Kiki Vandeweghe’

Bucks coach Kidd will serve 1-game suspension tonight at Orlando

VIDEO: Jason Kidd was suspended 1 game for this sequence in Wednesday’s game

Milwaukee coach Jason Kidd will not work the Bucks game at Orlando Friday night while serving a one-game suspension for “aggressively pursuing and confronting a game official,” the league announced.

Kidd’s penalty, meted out by NBA executive VP of basketball operations Kiki Vandeweghe, resulted from his technical foul and ejection at 1:49 of the fourth quarter of the Bucks’ home loss to Sacramento Wednesday. Kidd angrily confronted referee Zach Zarba and slapped the basketball out of Zarba’s hands. The play at the BMO Harris Bank Bradley Center can be viewed here.

Vandeweghe’s rationale wasn’t provided with the penalty, but Kidd probably didn’t help his case by stepping toward Zarba and being restrained by Bucks players after the technical and ejection. And the Milwaukee coach likely didn’t do himself any favors, either, by having his incident just four days after Atlanta coach Mike Budenholzer was ejected for incidental contact on the court in Cleveland with referee Ben Taylor.

Budenholzer was ejected on the spot, and the NBA followed up Monday by fining him $25,000. The National Basketball Referees Association criticized the lack of a suspension, with NBRA general counsel Lee Seham‘s amping up rhetoric that prompted veteran NBA coaches Gregg Popovich and Rick Carlisle to fire back in a brief war of words.

But given past punishment of coaches who came into physical contact with referees – from Popovich’s one-game suspension for bumping Bob Delaney in 1993 to Jerry Sloan‘s seven-game suspension for a run-in with Courtney Kirkland in 2003 – many NBA referees were bothered by Budenholzer’s money-only penalty.

“They’re backing their fraternity, we’re backing ours,” one veteran official told “Our guys are [ticked] off. But we’re going to do our jobs.”

So whether Kidd’s suspension moves the bar for subsequent coach-referee contact on Vadeweghe’s watch or simply sets the standard for ball swatting, the league’s game officials might be more satisfied with this decision. Vandeweghe, a former All-Star forward and team executive moved up the ranks at league HQ to take over this season for longtime exec Rod Thorn as the NBA’s “top cop.” Thorn coincidentally has been serving as a consultant to the Bucks for the past two months.

Ads on game uniforms a crucial topic on Board of Governors’ agenda

NEW YORK – The city that’s home to some of the priciest rental properties in the world has been the site this week for some NBA discussions on square-footage rates that dwarf even the most tony Park Avenue addresses.

How does $3 million to $5 million for 2.5 square inches sound?

The league’s Board of Governors reportedly was talking about the use of adverstisers’ logos on game jerseys at its annual October meeting. The topic dates back several years, with the NBA studying the economics of such a move as far back as 2012.

That’s when Kiki Vandeweghe – now the NBA’s executive vice-president of basketball operations, then working under president Rod Thorn – penned a piece for the Wall Street Journal noting that advertising is common internationally on soccer jerseys and, of course, on NASCAR cars and fire suits. The WNBA has featured ads and logos on uniform tops for years.

Details – sizes, prices, navigating conflicts with other corporate partnerships and more – were just starting to be explored when Vandeweghe wrote in his defense of the strategy:

It’s time Jerry West, the Hall of Famer widely regarded as the inspiration of the NBA’s logo, got some company on league jerseys. And it’s time for fans to recognize that, no matter how much they view their favorite teams as public trusts, those teams are businesses first.


Besides, the quality of the game on the court wouldn’t change one iota. Would the uniform look better without it? Slightly. But the NBA hasn’t grown to a global icon by ignoring revenue possibilities.

That last thought might figure into questions NBA commissioner Adam Silver is expected to field at the conclusion of the Board’s meetings Friday on daily fantasy Web sites. Silver recently spoke with about the league’s equity stake in FanDuel, with the commissioner saying he still sees such gaming sites as a legitimate and lucrative revenue stream and supports federal regulation of the industry.

The owners also were expected to hear reports from the financial and competition committees, along with reviewing the recent collective-bargaining agreement with the NBA’s referees.

Morning shootaround — Aug. 16

VIDEO: The Starters discuss the Rockets’ acquisition of Ty Lawson, who is welcomed by Harden


‘Red Mamba’ turns superhero DJ | Tskitishvili seeks NBA comeback | NBA dreams vs. European careers | Rockets’ Harden welcomes Lawson

No. 1: ‘Red Mamba’ turns superhero DJ — Generally here at the Hang Time HQ, we try to focus these Morning Shootarounds on topics around the Association that pack significant news value or delve into the NBA’s many fascinating feature angles. Every once in a while, though, we have to present something for no better reason than its goofiness. And of course, the photos and/or video it generates on social media. So without further ado, here’s an update from on veteran San Antonio Spurs forward Matt Bonner, his alter ego “Red Mamba,” and how he spent his Saturday at the Rock On Festival back home in Concord, N.H., commemorating that city’s 250th anniversary. It is worth noting that the executive director of the Rock On Foundation, which presented the free one-day festival, is Matt’s brother Luke:

San Antonio Spurs forward Matt Bonner nicknames himself as “The Red Mamba.” This is likely because of two reasons: First, he perfectly fits the prototype for the old term “redheaded stepchild.” Second, the nickname “Black Mamba” was already taken.
But Bonner apparently compensates in deejaying— and creating ridiculous costumes— for what he lacks in originality when creating self-donned monikers. The two-time NBA champion dressed up like a caped crusader and deejayed a set at Concord, New Hampshire’s annual Rock On Festival.
Surely, he’s no DJ Premier nor Kid Capri, but according to the Twitter reactions from this event, The Red Mamba made his hometown crowd proud as they danced to his selections ranging from artists like The Isley Brothers, Taylor Swift, David Bowie, to Outkast.


No. 2: Tskitishvili seeks NBA comeback — When we last saw Nikoloz Tskitishvili, he was being waived out of the NBA in July 2006, a few months past his 23rd birthday. The slender 7-footer selected No. 5 overall by Denver in 2002 was considered a draft bust then and now, nine years after his fifth NBA team gave up on him, he regularly appears on lists of the biggest flops in league history. Unlike a lot of those unfortunate (and undeniably talented) fellows, though, Tskitishvili is still of a mind and body to do something to change opinions. At least, that’s why he was in Las Vegas, hoping to attract interest via Summer League for an NBA comeback. That’s where Chris Dempsey of the Denver Post caught up with older, wiser former phenom:

His body is bigger and leaner. He’s smarter. He’s much more mature.
Nikoloz Tskitishvili is trying to convince his lunch guest at the Hard Rock Hotel that he should get another chance in the NBA, listing the reasons this time will be different.

“I just turned 32, but I’m better,” he said. “I’m better at this age. I got stronger. I’ve got confidence. I got smarter.”

And, as Tskitishvili admits, he did little in his three seasons in Denver to convince anyone he belonged on an NBA court. He averaged 3.2 points and 1.9 rebounds and shot 30 percent in 143 games. He was 19 years old, a 7-footer lean and not close to being ready mentally and physically for the NBA when the Nuggets drafted him. Thirteen years later, he still carries the burden of failed expectations.
“It’s very tough to make that decision, to draft a young guy with no experience, not ready physically, mentally,” Tskitishvili said. “You risk a lot. They trusted me so much, but I didn’t give them a chance.”

Kiki Vandeweghe, then the Nuggets’ general manager, made the call that would haunt the franchise.

“I feel like it was my fault, not Kiki’s fault,” Tskitishvili said. “I had to take care of myself better and stay patient. I should have listened to him. I used to tell him: ‘I want to get traded. I want to get a new chance.’ He was against that. This is why I respect that guy. He liked me, he loved me and I should have listened to him.”

Vandeweghe was in his first year as Denver’s GM.

“We had a lot of things going on at that time,” Vandeweghe said in a phone interview. “We had the Nene-Antonio McDyess (trade) with the Knicks. We had about five other deals that were close to happening. We had one other small deal. And then focused on the draft. I had not seen Skita play basketball in person. And so that’s not something that I probably would repeat ever, drafting somebody I hadn’t seen.”

Tskitishvili was in Las Vegas recently for summer-league play. He continues to show up nine years after he last played in the league, hoping for a longshot chance to prove his worth.

“I’m 100 times better than I was,” he said. “It’s just very difficult for teams to understand that, because they are looking at the number, the age. If you ask me, this is the best shape I’ve ever been in and the best I’ve been playing in my career.”

And if he got to choose a team to make his comeback? Yes, it would be the Nuggets.

“If I could get a chance to show that it was not a mistake …” he said, his voice trailing.


No. 3: NBA dreams vs. European careers — Tskitishvili was a Euro prospect who got a chance, however pressurized, to chase his dream of playing in the world’s greatest basketball league. But a lot of players in Orlando and Las Vegas in the offseason face the flip side of that dynamic, deciding between their pursuit of an NBA dream vs. a legitimate livelihood playing the game overseas. Our own Ian Thomsen delved into that quandary through the eyes and experiences of one such player in particular, undrafted Davidson product Tyler Kalinoski. It’s worth checking out the full story here on, but here are some highlights:

“I don’t know if scary is the right word,” he was saying. “It’s a game of chess, of making the right moves. You never know what is going to be the right decision.”

Kalinoski, a high-energy 6-4 guard, was used to exceeding expectations. As Davidson’s final recruit four years ago — discovered at the last minute when a higher-rated player failed to qualify academically — he had risen to become the Atlantic 10 player of the year while contributing in all areas. He had always seemed to know where he was going, even if others failed to recognize his potential. But this next step was something different.

“In college you know where you’re going to be,” Kalinoski said. “But now, really for the first time in my life, I have no idea what I’m going to be doing next year. So it’s exciting because of all the possibilities. But I’m also getting kind of anxious about where I’m going to be.”

He was surrounded by all kinds of virtual doorways. Several of them led directly to a variety of career paths in Europe — two professional clubs in Belgium, one in Italy, another in France. Those clubs were pursuing him, and he was grateful for their interest; but at the same time, what intrigued him most of all were the less-welcoming portals that might lead to a career in the NBA. He had gone undrafted in June, he knew the NBA was a longshot, and still he did not want to walk away from the possibility.

He was 22 years old, with a face that looked even younger. He was wearing with pride the red cap and T-shirt that had been supplied by his Summer League team, the Miami Heat. He was setting out on his own with more questions than answers.

Was he going to go play in Europe? Or hold out for the NBA?

One of [agent Kenny] Grant‘s specialties was to help young American players make the most complicated decision: To choose the fork in the road that separated the dream of playing in the NBA from the reality of a career in Europe. The strategy for Kalinoski entering his first summer of professional basketball was to create maximum exposure on both sides of the ocean. Summer League was the perfect venue because it was swarming with European coaches and executives in addition to the host NBA teams.

“We are willing to ride with whatever Tyler wants to do,” Grant said. “We give our advice, but we respect that people have their dream. If it works, if it doesn’t work, we’re okay with it either way. We will go forward with what we have. You don’t want someone to go forward with regrets.”

During the opening weekend of Summer League in Orlando, the coach of the French club Elan Chalon wanted to speak with Kalinoski. Their meeting went well, and Chalon became Kalinoski’s most aggressive and persistent recruiter.

“Some people go to Europe and they’re really happy playing there,” Grant said. “Others, it’s not for them. With these European teams, if you don’t show interest, they’re gone.”


No. 4: Rockets’ Harden welcomes Lawson — Most of the Houston Rockets players, coaches and executives, and certainly the vast majority of their fans, have only unanswered questions about Ty Lawson and what the troubled former Denver Nuggets point guard might bring to their team this season. But Houston’s All-Star guard James Harden feels he already has a few answers and believes in Lawson as a solid acquisition because he had a chance to meet up with him in California recently. He spoke to the Houston Chronicle‘s Jonathan Feigen over the weekend about it:

Harden and new Rockets guard Ty Lawson “spent some time together,” enough for Harden to be convinced that his new teammate will overcome his off-court issues and be a valuable addition to the Rockets’ backcourt.

“Ty is definitely going to help us,” Harden said during a break in the Kroger Unplug and Play James Harden Basketball ProCamp in The Woodlands on Saturday. “He gives us that quickness, that speed, playmaking ability, something that we were missing, especially deep in the playoffs. We’re going to welcome him with open arms. We’re happy to have him.”

Lawson completed a 30-day rehabilitation program ordered after his second DUI arrest this year. Harden said he has already spent enough time with Lawson to be “not at all” concerned that Lawson will have similar issues.

“He’s out in California right now working out,” Harden said. “We’re happy to have him. He’s going to be a great addition to our team. I’ve been with him these last couple weeks. He’s more focused than ever. He has a great opportunity with a really good team to showcase his talents and help us with that push that we need.”


SOME RANDOM HEADLINES: He’s no Deron Williams, at least not the Williams who used to make NBA All-Star teams, but journeyman Jarrett Jack will be logging more minutes at point guard for the Brooklyn Nets in Williams’ absence. And he feels ready for a greater leadership role. … Veteran guard Jason Richardson, at 34, isn’t getting any guarantees but he will get a contract with and a serious look from the Atlanta Hawks. … Former Miami wing Dorrell Wright still is on the Heat’s radar. … When Michael Jordan signed his first Nike endorsement deal for $2.5 million, the shoe-and-apparel company required a opt-out clause if the NBA newcomer didn’t translate into profits. Thirty years later, the Jordan Brand – generating an estimated $2.5 billion in annual revenues – will get its own store in Chicago. …

Morning shootaround — June 2

VIDEO: Relive Stephen Curry’s top 10 assists from 2014-15


Reports: Hoiberg headed to Bulls| All-time great shooters marvel at Curry’s shooting skill | LeBron says he’s playing at his best ever

No. 1: Reports: Hoiberg headed to Bulls; Has reached 5-year deal with Chicago — The worst kept secret in the NBA regarding who will replace Tom Thibodeau as coach of the Chicago Bulls will likely be fully out in the open today. According to multiple reports, the Bulls are set to formally introduce Iowa State coach (and former Bulls player) Fred Hoiberg as their next coach. has more on the move, which isn’t a done deal yet, but is close enough that Hoiberg is telling some at Iowa State he won’t be back for 2015-16:

Fred Hoiberg has informed several Iowa State players and staff members that he is leaving, a source told’s Jeff Goodman.

Hoiberg is in negotiations with the Chicago Bulls for a five-year contract to become their new coach and was en route to Chicago to finalize the agreement, according to the source.

Although contract language is still being hammered out, multiple sources said the feeling from many within the Bulls organization is that the deal is all but complete.

On Monday night, the Bulls informed media that the team will make a “major announcement” Tuesday at 3 p.m. ET.

Hoiberg has been mentioned as a successor to Tom Thibodeau for months, due to Hoiberg’s close friendship with Bulls general manager Gar Forman and several others in the team’s front office.

Yahoo Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski reports Hoiberg has in fact already signed with the Bulls and has a five-year, $25 million deal with them:

Fred Hoiberg has signed a five-year contract worth nearly $25 million to coach the Chicago Bulls, league sources told Yahoo Sports.

Chicago has a news conference set for Tuesday afternoon to introduce Hoiberg as coach.

Hoiberg’s contract is comparable to deals that Golden State’s Steve Kerr and New York Knicks’ Derek Fisher signed a year ago.

Hoiberg had been making $2.6 million a year at Iowa State.

Bulls management considered the partnership that Celtics general manager Danny Ainge and Brad Stevens had developed as a model for the Hoiberg hiring, league sources said. Stevens made the leap to the NBA from Butler University three years ago.

The Oklahoma City Thunder hired Florida coach Billy Donovan, agreeing to what sources say is a five-year, $30 million contract.

VIDEO: K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune analyzes the Thibodeau firing

*** (more…)

NBA offers some ref transparency, playoff ‘points of emphasis’

By Steve Aschburner,

Granted, it’s not always satisfying when the NBA issues an officiating verdict the day after a disputed play. Learning 18 hours later that, yes, a foul should have been called on that final missed field-goal attempt in Team A’s 1-point loss doesn’t change the W-L records of the squads involved and rarely calms fans who felt their team got jobbed.

But transparency beats opacity, even after the fact, so the league regularly has tried to review, interpret and explain its many calls and non-calls ASAP. One way to do that now, with the playoffs approaching and stakes and emotions getting ever higher, is through a follow of @NBAOfficial on Twitter. That account will provide updates and clarifications on rules and fouls in the closest thing to real time, while educating some fans on what does or doesn’t constitute an instant-replay “trigger.”

The Twitter feed was one of the reminders Thursday to media folks in the league’s 2014 basketball & referee operations WebEx online meeting. A fleet of NBA executives provided updates and answered questions about the season and looming postseason, including “points of emphasis” that will remain high on referees’ radar as the playoffs unfold.

Participating in the multi-media event: Rod Thorn, president, basketball operations; Mike Bantom, executive vice president, referee operations; Kiki VanDeWeghe, senior vice president, basketball operations; Joe Borgia, vice president, referee operations; and Don Vaden, VP & director of officials.

One thing fans might notice again this spring is a change that was initiated for the 2013 playoffs: Keeping referees together in the same crew to develop familiarity and continuity in their court coverage.

Traditionally, three referees come together pretty much randomly to officiate NBA games, compared to MLB umpires, who work most of the season in set four-man crews.

Vaden said that last spring, the league booked two referees as a tandem for each game, with the third official rotating through. “Ken Mauer and Ed Malloy worked every game together,” Vaden said, offering an example. “We’re more consistent in what we’re doing on the floor when we do that.”

This used to be standard procedure, Thorn recalled. “There was a time way back when crews were kept together,” he said. “There was a time when the same two referees refereed all the games in The Finals.”

In addition to the logical benefits of refs working together, Vaden mentioned some secondary ones off the floor in terms of reviews and communication.

“Keeping the guys together, traveling together, they can review more video of the games,” he said. “They’re easier for me to get a hold of than in the regular season. Even on off-days they’re together in the same hotels, so we can do a review from their last game and give them a preview of the game to come.”

The review process of referee performance has grown more thorough through the years, with a centralized group of eight reviewers in the office in New Jersey handling most of the heavy lifting. Teams also submit feedback, and the league has made it a priority to keep teams, players, coaches, media and fans in the loop with rulings and updated points of emphasis.

The selection process to work in, and advance through, the postseason is rigorous, Bantom said. From the regular-season pool of 62 referees, 32 are identified based on performance criteria to work the first round. That gets cut to 20 for the conference semifinals, 16 for the East and West finals and 12 assigned to The Finals. Guidelines in the playoffs include: no back-to-back games for officials, no more than three games worked in a week and, ideally, not reappearing in a series before Game 6 (loosened to Game 5 in The Finals).

Speaking about the NBA in general in 2013-14, with the transition from David Stern to Adam Silver in the commissioner’s office, VanDeWeghe said: “Our focus has been transparency and inclusion. We want to include more people in our discussions. Improve communications with teams, players, media and fans. We want to share more information and just the processes of what we go through. You can never tell where a great idea comes from, and we’d like to hear from you. This is our game together.”

The POE this postseason will largely be a continuation of those introduced back in October. Among them, Vaden spoke of:

  • Freedom of movement, including illegal screens.
  • Traveling calls, especially on the perimeter.
  • Point-of-contact plays, before, during and after shot attempts. “We have clarified the rule for teams, that if it affects the natural follow-through, even though the ball was released, we would penalize the defender,” Vaden said. “Hits on the elbow, we’ve gotten better at.”
  • Push or pull plays, physically redirecting an opponent.
  • Delay-of-game calls for handling the ball after it passes through the net. Said Vaden: “Everybody complained, but after about a month of the season, everybody’s running from the ball. The players have done a great job in adapting to this.”
  • Verticality. “It’s easy for us to call ‘A’ to ‘B’ movement,” Vaden said, referring to a defender who goes up in the air but not quite straight up. “As the season went on, we saw more of the defender turning in the air and [confronting the ball handler] with his side.” That’s a defensive foul too. But a scorer who wards off the defender with an arm, leads with a knee or elbow or even “displaces” the man so he cannot rebound can wind up with an offensive foul.

Borgia reminded participants that the NBA’s system of points and suspensions for flagrant fouls and technical fouls resets for the playoffs. The trigger numbers in the postseason are four points for flagrants, seven for technicals.

Several execs weighed in on “hand on the ball” interpretations, which came up again Tuesday on the final play of the Brooklyn-Miami game. That’s when LeBron James went up for what could have been a game-winning dunk, only to have the ball knocked loose – and his hand or wrist smacked, James complained – by Nets forward Mason Plumlee.

Plumlee was credited with a game-saving block and the league’s brass supported that call.

“Frame by frame, you can see that Plumlee got his hand on the ball before there was any contact hand-to-hand,” Thorn said. “That was basically LeBron’s hand coming forward and interlocking with Plumlee. A very, very close play. Very, very difficult to see. I think the refs did a great job in ascertaining what they did.”

Borgia attempted to simplify for the online audience what many folks don’t get quite right.

“If they hit a part of my hand or finger that is physically on the ball, that is considered hitting the ball and not a foul,” the referee-turned-supervisor said. “I think there is some misconception out there. … On a jump shot, most of the time the ball is more on your fingertips and not sitting in the palm of your hand. If someone hits the back of the hand, that would be a foul.”

Transparency, see. It might not alter a critic’s opinion of a call but it can aid in the understanding.

Thunder’s Time Is Now, Right Now!

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — For years now we’ve tried to come up with an appropriate comparison for Kevin Durant, for a comparable player with a near 7-footer’s length and the skill of an elite shooting guard.

And for years, we’ve come up empty here at the hideout. There is no one that we can think of that captures exactly what Durant brings to the floor every night.

After seeing what Durant, Russell Westbrook, Serge Ibaka and the Thunder in an overtime win over the Denver Nuggets Sunday night, we’re giving up that fight. We’re prepared to classify Durant, in particular, in a category all his own.

But it’s never been more obvious that he has the sort of help surrounding him that could push the Thunder into the championship realm just a few years into the glorious basketball experiment going on in Oklahoma City.

No team in the long and illustrious history of the league has had a player score 50, another score 40 and another notch a triple double, until the Thunder trio did it against the Nuggets. The last time two teammates notched a 50 and 40 point game on the same night was 1983, when Kiki Vandeweghe (51) and Alex English (47) got loose.

Durant finished with a breathtaking and career-high 51 points (on 19-for-28 shooting and including a 5-for-6 performance from beyond the 3-point line). Westbrook turned in a season-high of his own, finishing with 40 points, nine assists and four rebounds. And Ibaka topped it off with 14 points, 15 rebounds and 11 blocks.

Not one of them is over the age of 23, a mind-boggling footnote in an otherworldly performance.

That blinding light shining in your face right now is the Thunder’s future and it begins and ends with those three and James Harden at the forefront of one of the most compelling youth movements the league has seen in a while.


Welcome To Recruiting Season

– For the latest updates check out:’s Free Agent Tracker

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – This is always our favorite part.

Now that you can actually back up the rumors with real, live contact with free agents, we’re going to get a chance to see exactly who is serious about taking home some prizes in this compressed NBA free agency period.

Contact between team officials and players can be made this morning, meaning we no longer have to subsist on a daily diet of unnamed sources and innuendo. With courting season tipping off, we’ll get a chance to see what teams are ready to back up the hype generated in the past week.

If you like Caron Butler or Jamal Crawford, invite them to tour your practice facility and chauffeur them around town like the blue-chip free agent many teams think they are.

If Nene or Tyson Chandler is the big man you must have, the one that will solidify your team’s frontline, now is the time to show them just how much they are needed. Someone has to give these guys a reason to sign here rather than there.

And with the finishing touches on the nuts and bolts of a new collective bargaining agreement still in the works, free agency is going to come down to the same thing it almost always does (aside from cold hard cash, of course) — which team can work it best during recruiting season.

The recruiting season does extend beyond middle, high school and college ball.

Good recruiters are just as valuable at the NBA level, because they know what buttons to push to turn the head of players being pursued from nearly every direction.

The universal opinion that this free agent crop is lacking in franchise talent, a theory that is hard to argue when comparing the 2011 crop to that star-studded 2010 bunch. But that’s what makes the right recruiting pitch even more important — there were only a handful of teams with legitimate shots to land the likes of LeBron James, Chris Bosh and Amar’e Stoudemire.

What franchise worth its private jet doesn’t think it can lure David West or Kris Humphries with the right recruiting pitch?

On to the madness …



With the Yao Ming era officially over, might Nene be the man the Rockets tab to replace him in the middle? Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle reports that the Rockets’ interest will shift to a face-to-face meeting with the Brazilian big man today, one of many in-person recruiting pitches Nene is sure receive before making a decision on his future:

The Rockets’ pursuit of free-agent center Nene will move to a meeting Monday in Denver between the coveted center and Rockets coach Kevin McHale and general manager Daryl Morey, a person with knowledge of the meeting said on Sunday.

Nene is considered the top free agent available and has indicated a desire to leave the Denver Nuggets after failing to reach an agreement on a contract extension before the lockout. The Rockets had tried to work a deal with the Nuggets to acquire Nene prior to last season’s trade deadline.

Morey has also been in talks with the representative of free-agent center Tyson Chandler.


New Jersey Drive

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — Go in peace Fred Carter.

Your place in NBA history (and infamy) is safe.

The New Jersey Nets won their 10th game last night, assuring Carter and his teammates on the 1972-73 Philadelphia 76ers won’t have to slide over for any youngsters trying to match their league record for futility in a season.

We still don’t get why Carter and his mates are so adamant about hanging on to the mark as the team with the worst record in league history. But we are willing to try to understand where Carter is coming from:

Perhaps even more startling than the Nets avoiding history was the team they stepped on to do it.

The Spurs have been playing fantastic basketball of late. Yet they proved that old coaching axiom that, “on any given night …”

More from our main man and HT fave Dave D’Alessandro of the Star-Ledger:

“Quick, somebody call hell – find out if it’s frozen over.

The Nets won their 10th game of the season [Monday night], and never mind that the victims — the mighty San Antonio Spurs — were missing two of their best players.

The more pertinent development was that the Nets showed more resolve in the last five minutes than they had shown in the last five months, outscoring Tim Duncan’s team 18-7 down the stretch to post a stunning 90-84 triumph before 13,053 grateful witnesses at Izod Center.

The ancillary benefit: The 1972-73 Sixers – owners of that 9-73 record – still stand alone in NBA infamy.

“It got that monkey off our back,” reserve guard Keyon Dooling said. “I mean, it’s just a relief to not have your name in the history books. When you think of Fred Carter and guys like that, that’s still on his resume. No matter how good of an analyst he is, no matter how good a player he was, that’s still a stain on his resume that you don’t want to have.”

These weren’t the Spurs that had beaten the Nets 14 straight times, of course: They are still without Tony Parker (fractured right hand) and Manu Ginobili was a midday scratch after waking up with a stiff back. It didn’t help, either, that Roger Mason was lost before halftime with a sprained pinky.

So the Nets looked at what the Spurs had left and locked them up over the last three quarters, holding them to a total of 51 points on 36 percent shooting in those 36 minutes.

Duncan? The greatest power forward in history continued to look very creaky, going 6-for-15 with four turnovers – including a crosscourt pass that sailed into the crowd with 7.9 seconds left and the Spurs trailing 87-84. That’s when Devin Harris, who played a brilliant game (17 points, nine assists) finished San Antonio off with a game-clinching foul shot.

“They worked hard for 48 minutes and deserved it,” Gregg Popovich said. “We just didn’t have anybody that could score. And if you’re not scoring, then you at least have to make free throws, which we didn’t.”

Congratulations Kiki Vandeweghe, Devin Harris, Courtney Lee, Brook Lopez and the rest of the Nets, you have avoided infamy.

More Nets fun from our friends in the Tri-State area:


Jonathan Abrams of the New York Times:

“History will reflect that the Nets of 2009-10 are bad. It will also now reflect that they are not the worst team in N.B.A. history. After serving as the league’s version of the Washington Generals much of this season, the Nets stiff-armed infamy by claiming their 10th victory in their 74th game, a 90-84 victory Monday over a depleted version of the San Antonio Spurs. “We got 10,” the public address announcer Gary Sussman said as the final buzzer sounded. “The Nets win. The Nets wiiiiiiiiiin.” Never has a 10th victory so late in the season been so sweet. The Nets’ win means that the 1972-73 Philadelphia 76ers will keep their distinction with nine victories in an 82-game season. This is as good as it will probably get for the Nets, who collectively breathed a sigh of relief that it did not get as bad as it could have gotten. The season started ominously. The team parted with its longtime coach Lawrence Frank, set the record for most losses to start a season with 18, and bequeathed interim coaching duties on a hesitant Kiki Vandeweghe, its general manager. Along the way, the organization pointed to hopeful bright spots ahead: a move from the Meadowlands to Newark and eventually Brooklyn, their pending sale to the Russian oligarch Mikhail Prokhorov and the salary cap space they have cleared ahead of this summer’s potential free-agent bonanza. But the nagging issue of whether this team could separate itself from the old 76ers team remained. “You don’t have to ask me about it and you do not get to ask me about it every day,” Vandeweghe said afterward.”


Julian Garcia of the New York Daily News:

“Mikhail Prokhorov certainly would have been partying Monday night. The Nets, who soon will be owned by one of the richest, most hard-partying men in the world, pulled off a stunner at the Meadowlands Monday night, beating the San Antonio Spurs, 90-84, to earn their 10th win of the season – which clears them of having anything to do with the worst record in history. With just eight games left, the Nets can now look in their rearview mirrors and see the 1972-73 Philadelphia 76ers, who remain the worst NBA team ever at 9-73. The Nets have won three of their last four to improve to 10-64. But unlike their future owner, who was shown with drink in hand, bouncing to pulsating beats while surrounded by several good-looking women at a nightclub in Moscow during a segment that aired on “60 Minutes” on Sunday, the Nets stayed modest afterward. “Hey, nobody wants to be the worst team in history so it is exciting to get 10 wins,” said Devin Harris, who had 17 points and nine assists. “But then again, it is 10 wins.”  The Nets – who set a franchise-record low with just four turnovers – trailed by five when Matt Bonner hit a 3-pointer with 6:10 left, but took over the game with a 13-2 run that started when Harris hit a fadeaway jumper 21 seconds later. Between that shot and an 18-footer by Terrence Williams that capped the run, the Nets got huge buckets from Lopez and Yi Jianlian. The biggest play came with 7.9 seconds left and the Nets leading by three. After receiving an inbound pass, Duncan tried passing the ball to George Hill, but ended up tossing it out of bounds. Trying to keep Hill from getting in position to shoot a 3-pointer, Courtney Lee slipped but was still able to disrupt the play. Harris was then fouled and hit one of the free throws to give the Nets an 88-84 lead. After Jefferson (16 points) missed a 3-pointer as time expired, the crowd of 13,053 went as crazy as a crowd can go for a team with 10 wins in the final weeks of the season. “A team in a situation like that, you try to take them out of the game early and not make it a ballgame, and they have skilled ballplayers,” Duncan said. “Despite their record, they have a lot of guys who are very good, so we gave them the confidence to stay in it and they made the plays more than we did.”


Fred Kerber of the New York Post:

“Watch your back, Minnesota. The Nets are gunning for you. “The way we’re playing, I think there’s a chance we can catch Minnesota,” Nets center Brook Lopez said with an absolute straight face. No longer are the Nets worried about being history’s worst team. They got their 10th win last night, defeating the banged-up Spurs, 90-84, to ensure the inglorious title of “Worst NBA Team Ever” will remain with the 1972-73 Sixers, who were 9-73. “It’s a big relief,” said Devin Harris (17 points, nine assists and zero turnovers in 38 minutes). “Nobody wants to be the worst team in history, so it is exciting to get 10 wins. But then again, it is 10 wins.” Not nine, like those long ago peasant Sixers. And now they insist the 14-60 T-Wolves are within reach. The No. 1 pick be damned (there’s no guarantee they get it with the worst record). So they want to catch and pass Minnesota. “I would love to. If we can catch them and not finish last in the NBA, that’d be great,” said Courtney Lee (19 points). “It’s one less problem we have to deal with. You can ask anybody on the team, we don’t care about that [lottery]. We’re on the team this year. We’re trying to win as many as possible.” Hey, they’ve won 3-of-4. And last night’s was perhaps the most improbable. The Spurs were banged up going in as they were without Manu Ginobili (back) and Tony Parker (broken hand). Roger Mason Jr. (sprained pinky) joined them in the infirmary during the second quarter. But, still, they were the Spurs who had beaten the Nets 14 straight times. “Don’t get us wrong, we’re still mad about the overall season. But 10 wins. We’re not in the record book,” said Terrence Williams (11 of his 13 points in the fourth quarter), who hit a huge jumper at 2:41 to put the Nets ahead, 85-79.”


Al Iannazzone of the Record:

“No champagne bottles were uncorked. The lockers weren’t covered to prevent damage and no one jumped on the scorer’s table with arms raised after the most important victory of the season. The Nets were happy, pumping fists and pumping each up during the game. But after the final seconds ticked down on their tenth win of the season, an unexpected 90-84 victory over San Antonio that meant the Nets would have no part of the worst NBA record of all time, they did nothing out of the ordinary. Except for maybe a group exhale and every player in the Nets’ locker room saying they want to catch Minnesota and not finish with the worst record in the league. “We’re not going to jump through the roof because we won 10 games,” said Devin Harris, who played a terrific floor game with 17 points, nine assists and zero turnovers. “We don’t want to be a part of the worst team in history. It’s exciting to get 10 wins. Then again it is 10 wins.” Ten wins means the most futile season remains in the hands of the 1972-73 Philadelphia 76ers, who went 9-73. Ten wins also means the Nets (10-64) are just four games behind the Timberwolves, losers of 16 straight. The Nets, winners of three of their last four, have made that their new goal, finishing 29th out of 30 teams. “The way we’re playing, said Brook Lopez, the game’s high scorer with 22 points and 12 rebounds, “I think there’s a chance we can catch Minnesota.” Don’t expect the Nets to throw a party if they achieve that either. Number 10 was anything but perfect. The Nets gave up 33 first-quarter points and shot just 37.6 percent from the field. But it was the perfect storm of no summer signings because the team was being sold, early season injuries, last-second shots and a coaching change that put the Nets in position to be the worst NBA team. And the perfect storm led to this victory. For the Nets that was perfection. “It’s one less problem we have to deal with the rest of the season,” said Courtney Lee, who had 19 points. “It’s a big relief.”