Posts Tagged ‘NBA D-League’

Humbled Muhammad Wants 2nd Chance


VIDEO: Muhammad’s sterling D-League debut

RENO, Nev. — He’s not the first lottery pick to feel the slap of being told he was getting shipped to the NBA D-League.

But after a few days of self pity, Shabazz Muhammad came to the conclusion that it might be just what he needed.

“It’s giving me a chance to maybe reset and restart where I should have been coming into the NBA,” said the Timberwolves’ rookie after he scored 24 points for the Iowa Energy at the D-League Showcase. “I don’t think I was aggressive enough when I played in summer league. I don’t think I showed enough to the coaches and to the team that I was ready.”

The MVP of the 2012 McDonald’s All-American Game and regarded by many as the top player in his college class, Muhammad was drafted by Minnesota with the 14th pick last June. Following his underwhelming performance in the summer, he was sent home from the league’s rookie orientation. Reports said he had a female guest in his room.

“It was all humbling and it’s not the way I envisioned starting out my NBA career,” Muhammad said. “I know a lot of people have been looking at me because of the high profile that I had in high school.”

He’s managed to get onto the floor in only 11 games for the Wolves, playing an average of just 3.8 minutes.

“On the one hand, you want to stay at the NBA level and hope that things can improve,” Muhammad said. “But after I got the news that they wanted me to come here to the Showcase, and spending some time with the Energy, it set in that getting a chance to run for some real minutes and play in game conditions was the best way for me to get better and to show the coaching staff that I’m committed to improving.”

Muhammad said he tries to ignore the hurtful and sometimes personal criticism that comes from social media.

“It’s easy to take shots at people and I guess it’s easier when it’s a guy like me that has a name that’s been out there for a while,” he said. “I can’t worry about that stuff or let it get to me.

“I believe I can be a productive NBA player. I know I wasn’t fully prepared and didn’t show all of the necessary things coming into this season. But that’s why I’m here now. I’m not gonna pout about being here. The goal is to prove that I can do all of the things the Wolves want and this is all part of that.”

Rockets’ White Goes To D-League

HOUSTON – Maybe the first sign of progress was that this time Royce White didn’t react to the notion of being assigned to the NBA D-League by fire-bombing the Rockets organization via Twitter.

In fact, the 16th pick in the draft, who suffers from anxiety disorder and has butted heads with Rockets management since training camp, did not even Tweet a hint that he was joining the Rio Grande Valley Vipers in Bakersfield, Calif. and would be available to play in Sunday night’s game against the Jam.

The 6-foot-8 forward out of Iowa State has been at odds with the Rockets due to what he claims is their unwillingness to accommodate his condition. The team had re-worked his contract to make provisions for White to sometimes travel between games by bus, since anxiety about flying is one of the symptoms of his illness.

White did not report to the Rockets’ training camp in Hidalgo, Tex., home to the Vipers and, after getting no playing time in the first five games of the regular season, he went AWOL following a game at Memphis on Nov. 9. He remained at odds with the club when management insisted that he attend therapy sessions with a psychologist of their choosing, but has since agreed to terms and evidently been working to heal the wounds.

White resumed working out at the Toyota Center during the past week while the Rockets have been on the road. Sources have indicated that the next step in having him go to the D-League is part of a multi-week plan to fully integrate White back into the Rockets organization.

There is no timetable for White to return to the Rockets roster.

D-League Showcase: Day 4

SOUTH PADRE ISLAND, Tex. – The 2011 NBA Development Showcase came to an end Thursday and D-League president Dan Reed proclaimed the four-day event another success. The seventh annual Showcase was also the first in Texas.

“We had an all-time high in credentials issued for NBA scouts with 93, we had great games and the best talent we’ve ever seen in the NBA Development League,” Reed said. “We’re on a record pace for assigned players, both quality and quantity.

“The only thing that was a little disappointing was it was a little chilly by South Padre standards, but compared to the 12 inches of snow in New York we’re pretty good with it.”

The 16 teams in the D-League each competed in two games during the week at the South Padre Island Convention. Every game was broadcast live, including 10 on NBA TV and another on VERSUS.

“We’ve never had a bigger platform, not only here in South Padre, but around the country and around the world,” Reed added.

The Showcase also introduced dunk and 3-point contests for the first time. Both events are airing on tape-delay on VERSUS on Jan. 15 and Jan. 29. The 3-point event included such new ideas as shooting from distances several feet beyond the arc and a full “money-ball” rack.

Reed said those changes may be discussed at the NBA level.

“We’re always interested in trying new things,” Reed said. “We have a great slam dunk and 3-point contests at NBA All-Star weekend and in our conversations with VERSUS, we mutually agreed that there was great interest in doing an additional event here to accentuate the Showcase.”

South Padre Island is in the running to host the Showcase again next year, and Reed said the evaluation for next year’s event will be soon. Dallas Mavericks general manager and Texas Legends co-owner Donnie Nelson said he would be interested in bringing the Showcase to the Dallas area in the future.

Players also took part in clinics for area schools and community organizations, as well as several life-skills seminars.

The level of competition continues to improve with each passing year, according to the NBA personnel people in attendance this week. NBA teams have assigned 24 players already this season — more than last year — and including 13 first-round picks, with five from the lottery.

“Every year it gets better, absolutely” Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey said. “Dan Reed and [D-League vice president] Chris Alpert do a great job. It’s getting closer every year to be a true minor league like baseball. It just keeps getting better.”

ALDRICH ON ASSIGNMENT: Oklahoma City first-round pick Cole Aldrich is already on his second assignment with the Tulsa 66ers and is appreciative of his opportunity in the D-League. The 6-foot-11 center went into Thursday averaging 8.6 points and 7.8 rebounds.

“The talent down here is really high,” Aldrich said. “Guys are fighting every day to try to get that call up. With our team we have a great group of guys and it makes it even more fun to go out there and compete.”

Thunder coach Scott Brooks and his staff send Aldrich to Tulsa with marking orders. Oklahoma City owns the 66ers, so the system and terminology are the same for both squads.

“Just to continue to play hard, get that experience and work on the things I need to work on,” said Aldrich, a product of Kansas. “Defensively I really need to keep improving, because that’s one of my strengths right now.”

Aldrich is one five NBA players currently on assignment. The others are Pape Sy (Atlanta), Dexter Pittman (Miami), Jeremy Lin (Golden State) and Hamady N’Diaye (Washington). Aldrich isn’t sure when he’s headed back to the NBA, but that’s ok.

“Whenever my time is right,” he said. “I’m just going to continue to work hard and have fun.”

Thursday Showcase Results/Schedule (times ET)
Idaho 90, Springfield 86
Reno 117, Sioux Falls 93
Texas 119, Iowa 114
Austin vs. Bakersfield, 8:15 pm, NBA Futurecast

D-League Showcase: Day 3



SOUTH PADRE ISLAND, Tex. – A pair of NBA general managers from Texas believe that a one-for-one affiliate setup for the D-League isn’t that far off. It probably doesn’t hurt that Daryl Morey (Houston Rockets) and Donnie Nelson (Dallas Mavericks) already operate under such setups.

“It’s a matter of time,” said Nelson, co-owner of the Texas Legends. “It makes too much sense because you have your own development team in place. You always have need for guys, whether they go down in an injury or what have you.

“We’re an evolving development vehicle. And we will become better and we will over time become more attractive. We’ll get better and better players because of forums like [the D-League Showcase] and because this is the quickest, most direct path to the NBA.”

Morey took that a step further, suggesting not only an affiliate for every NBA team, but a system similar to minor-league baseball. Currently four NBA teams — Houston, Dallas, San Antonio and Oklahoma City — either own or operate basketball operations for a D-League squad. New Jersey joins that club next season.

“Every year they’ve added teams,” Morey said, “and I think eventually we’re going to get to 30 minor-league teams for 30 pro teams, and I think there might even be multiple minor league levels over time. I really believe that.”

Morey has found the Showcase beneficial from a Houston standpoint.

“My main focus is future Rockets,” he said. “Whether they’re on the Vipers or another team. We like to get as many NBA-potential guys on the Vipers as possible, but we’re looking at every team and every player.”

Nelson nearly called up former NBA first-round pick Joe Alexander earlier this week. The Mavs were in need of frontcourt depth after Caron Butler‘s season-ending injury and with Dirk Nowitzki out. Alexander, one of the top scorers and rebounders in the D-League, worked out for Dallas on Sunday along with Sasha Pavlovic.

Dallas, though, settled on Pavlovic because of his 3-point range and edge in NBA experience.

“Joe was really on par with Pavlovic as far as 3-point shooting goes and that really surprised me that he could shoot 3s like that, but Pavlovic has done it in the NBA Finals and we just haven’t seen Joe in that situation yet,” Nelson said. “And being where we are as a team that can be the difference between making it or not.”

Nelson acknowledges that the Legends, and thus the Mavericks, could be on the verge of having another NBA team call up Alexander.

“We’ll probably lose him,” Nelson said. “You lose your best player, you’re going to lose games, but that’s what we’re here for. If he makes another NBA team’s roster and we can be a small step in his career, we’re proud to do that.”

But his replacement could be here at the Showcase.

“You’ve got every NBA represented and you’ve got scouts and personnel folks from major European teams, Asia and all parts in between,” Nelson said. “This is the second-most athletic league in the world and so everyone no matter what continent they play basketball on is looking for talent. That’s what we’re all here looking for, the next J.J. Barea.

“From a Legends’ standpoint, we have a young Joe Alexander who’s getting better by the game. Sean Williams and before Antonio Daniels went down, he would have been a call up. And there’s Dominique Jones, who from a Mavericks’ perspective has the ability to play point guard in the heat of battle against this level of competition. There’s so many facets and advantages to having a single affiliate. It’s the future for sure.”

SHOOTOUT & DUNK CHAMP: Booker Woodfox of the Texas Legends won the inaugural Showcase Three-Point Contest by holding off Marcus Landry of Reno in the final round. L.D. Williams of Springfield took home the Slam Dunk Contest by outlasting Chris Johnson (Dakota) in the last round.

The other shooters were Robert Vaden (Tulsa), Corey Allmond (Fort Wayne), Chris Lofton (Iowa), Scottie Reynolds (Springfield), Jamar Smith (Maine) and Andre Ingram (Utah). The two other dunkers were Marques Blakely (Bakersfield) and Dar Tucker (New Mexico).

Both the dunk and 3-point contest air on VERSUS on Jan. 15 and Jan. 29.

Wednesday Showcase Results (times ET)
Bakersfield 105, Fort Wayne 93
Reno 111, Maine 102
Tulsa 96, Dakota 92

Rio Grande 124 , Valley Erie 106 

Thursday Showcase Schedule (times ET)
Idaho vs. Springfield, 12:00 pm, NBA TV
Reno vs. Sioux Falls, 2:45 pm, NBA TV
Iowa vs. Texas, 5:30 pm, NBA TV
Austin vs. Bakersfield, 8:15 pm, NBA Futurecast

D-League Showcase: Day 2

SOUTH PADRE ISLAND, Tex. — Utah Flash guard Orien Greene had a message after Tuesday’s game that a scout from Portland wanted to chat. Greene then received word that representatives from Chicago hoped to catch up at the hotel that night.

That’s what the Showcase is all about.

“I kinda always felt like I was right there,” said Greene, the D-League’s third-leading scorer. “I was always a borderline guy. I felt good coming into the season and doing the D-League thing again. The D-League is good exposure. We get scouts for every game.”

Greene does have plenty of NBA experience, 128 games worth over three seasons with three different teams. But he hasn’t been on an NBA court in more than two years, having spent time in Australia and with the Flash since last suiting up for Sacramento.

A second-round pick by Boston in 2005, Green played his most significant role with the Celtics that season. He backed up starting point guard Delonte West and averaged more than 15 minutes per game. Greene was suspended last in the season for one game and waived in the summer of 2006.

He played sparingly the next two years, first with Indiana and then the Kings. Now 28, Greene is aware of what he needs to improve to impress NBA scouts.

“Shooting the ball a little bit more consistent, taking care of the ball a little bit more, showing I can defend all types of guards,” he sad. “Showing a lot of versatility. I’m sure different teams want different things. I’ve pretty much got to be ready for anything. Whatever they want me to do, I’ll do.”

Greene isn’t sure how serious the interest is from the NBA this time around. But it’s there.

“It feels good,” he said. “Maybe this time around I’ll get a shot. I feel like I’m right there. I’ve put in the work over the years. It’s been showing on the court. I’ve put up pretty decent numbers.”

DUNKERS NAMED: Chris Johnson (Dakota), Marques Blakely (Bakersfield), Dar Tucker (New Mexico) and L.D. Williams (Springfield) are part of the first-ever Showcase Slam Dunk Contest, which is taking pace Wednesday night.

The two-round competition allows the dunkers to make up to two in each round, with five judges each awarding between 5-10 points for every made dunk. The two dunkers with the highest composite score after the first round advance to the finals.

SHOOTOUT SPECIALISTS, TOO: The eight players competing in the Three-Point Contest will be Corey Allmond (Fort Wayne), Andre Ingram (Utah), Marcus Landry (Reno), Chris Lofton (Iowa), Scottie Reynolds (Springfield), Jamar Smith (Maine), Robert Vaden (Tulsa) and Booker Woodfox (Texas).

The contest will be three rounds, and features a moveable ‘Money Rack’ and increased points awarded for shots made from deeper shooting spots. Both the dunk and 3-point contest air on VERSUS on Jan. 15 and Jan. 29.

MAD ANTS ADD CHISM: The Fort Wayne Mad Ants acquired Wayne Chism and have waived Obi Muonelo on Tuesday. Chism, a 6-9 forward out of Tennessee, was recently waived from a team in Turkey.

Chism averaged 12.6 points, 7.2 rebounds and 1.3 assists as a senior. Muonelo, the Mad Ants’ first-round draft pick, averaged 4.2 points per game in 19 games for the Mad Ants.

Tuesday Showcase Results
Austin 119, Dakota 97
Springfield 95, Utah 89
Maine 98, New Mexico 97
Erie 79, Idaho 74

Wednesday Showcase Schedule (times ET)
Bakersfield vs. Fort Wayne, 11:45 am, NBA TV
Maine vs. Reno, 2:30 pm, NBA TV
Tulsa vs. Dakota, 5:15 pm, NBA TV
Rio Grande Valley vs. Erie, 8:00 pm, VERSUS
Slam Dunk/Three-Point Contests, 10:30 pm, VERSUS (Jan. 15 & 29)

D-League Showcase: Day 1

SOUTH PADRE ISLAND, Tex. — Othyus Jeffers tasted life in the NBA last season, earning a Gatorade Call-Up and 14 games with the Utah Jazz. He’s back with the Iowa Energy this year and unsure if another trip the big league is around the corner.

And that’s ok.

“I’m not worried about it,” Jeffers said Monday after leading Iowa to an overtime win over the Utah Flash. “If it happens, it happens. If not, I’m here in the D-League.”

Jeffers is going his part to get back, averaging 20.3 points and 9.0 rebounds going into the Showcase despite being a 6-5 swingman playing somewhat out of position. The 25-year-old Chicago native said he’s a more of a perimeter player but forced to play inside for the Energy.

Jeffers knows the drill, though. It’s not so much about his skill set, but what prospective NBA teams are looking for.

“It’s about finding the right spot,” Jeffers said. “I’m grateful to be in position with the Iowa Energy where I can showcase my talents even though here I’m still not playing my natural position, but we have talent here.”

Jeffers said he honed his not so much in college — he attended three — but playing pro-am ball in Chicago against NBA players such as Michael Finley, Antoine Walker and Corey Maggette. And there was the end of last season playing under legendary Utah Jazz coach Jerry Sloan.

“The stint with the Jazz — straight execution,” Jeffers said. “I don’t care who you are, we executed.”

His execution was pretty close to perfect to finish off the Flash. Jeffers tied the game with a 3-point play in the last minute and assisted on Curtis Stinson‘s buzzer-beater to win the game.

“The GMs and the teams, they know what we can do already,” Jeffers said. “They’re just trying to see firsthand — a lot of people got cut — and who they’re going to bring in for those spots.”

FRIENDLY PAYBACK: New Mexico guard Dar Tucker spent a few minutes before the Thunderbirds’ opening game visiting with his former coach and teammates. Then he helped beat the Texas Legends.

Tucker scored a game-high 28, knocking down 5 of 6 3-pointers, as New Mexico rallied from 16 down to nip Texas 95-94.

“I had a lot of energy today,” said Tucker, a two-year D-League vet out of DePaul. “Biggest thing for us was our defense. We played excellent defense.”

Tucker began the season with the Legends before being traded in November for a future second-round pick. He appreciated the time in Texas playing for Nancy Lieberman.

“There’s no hard for me or for them,” Tucker said. “I talked to a couple of the guys and to Nancy. She told me to keep my head up.”

COMING UP: The first Gatorade Call-Up of the season beat the opening of the Showcase by one day. The Phoenix Suns signed Tulsa guard Zabian Dowdell to a 10-day contract on Sunday. Dowdell increases the number of current NBA players with D-League experience to 70.

Dowdell (6-3, 190) started all of the 66ers’ first 10 games, leading Oklahoma City Thunder’s affiliate to a Western Conference-best 12-6 record. The Virginia Tech product, a member of the Suns’ Summer League team, averaged team highs in points (14.5), assists (4.6) and steals (2.4) in 29.3 minutes per game.

TOUGH LUCK: The Reno Bighorns have waived point guard Aaron Miles on Monday after the D-League’s assists leader injured his left knee Wednesday. Miles was averaging 8.8 assists per game and also leading the D-League with 2.5 steals per game.

Reno has actually waived two starters in the last two weeks, having waved goodbye to center Nick Fazekas after he hurt his ankle. The Bighorns do retain the rights to both Miles and Fazekas.

Monday Showcase Schedule/Results
Tulsa 103, Sioux Falls 83
Iowa 95, Utah 93 (OT)
New Mexico 95, Texas 94
Rio Grande Valley 100, Fort Wayne 97

Tuesday Showcase Schedule (times ET)
Dakota vs. Austin, 12:00 pm, NBA TV
Springfield vs. Utah, 2:45 pm, NBA TV
New Mexico vs. Maine, 5:30 pm, NBA Futurecast
Erie vs. Idaho, 8:15 pm, NBA Futurecast

2011 D-League Showcase

SOUTH PADRE ISLAND, Texas — Nancy Lieberman arrived at the last year’s NBA Development League Showcase in snowy Boise, Idaho playing the part of head coach. She just didn’t have any players, her team didn’t have a nickname and she had no idea of what to expect.

A year later at the Showcase — on balmy South Padre Island this time — Lieberman is better equipped on all counts.

“We needed to know the lay of the land, how things work and how important that Showcase was for athletes,” said Lieberman, in her first season as the groundbreaking coach of the expansion Texas Legends.

“I stressed to my players before we left how many NBA personnel people will be there and what this opportunity can and will be like for them. And I could speak from firsthand experience having been there last year and having interacted with so many NBA people.”

More than 100 NBA front office types representing all 30 teams, from general managers to scouts, plus a host of international talent evaluators will descend on the southern tip of the Texas coast for the 2011 D-League Showcase. Billed as the NBA’s premier in-season scouting event, the Showcase tips off a 16-game schedule Monday and runs through Thursday at the South Padre Island Convention Centre.

All 16 teams in the D-League are playing two regular-season games over the four days. Every game will be broadcast live either on television or the Internet. NBA TV has 10 of the games, four are on NBA Futurecast at nba.com/dleague, and AOL Fanhouse and Versus have one each.

The exposure could lead to the break many of these players need. Eight players earned Gatorade Call-Ups during or immediately after last year’s Showcase, including Anthony Tolliver, Sundiata Gaines and Cartier Martin.

“It’s important for the young players to know how fortunate they are to be able to play two games in front of so many people that they could potentially be working for,” Lieberman said. “They’re going to look for that ace in the hole, that sleeper, that guy that they didn’t realize was that good or that consistent. Maybe some team has had a couple of injuries and this guy could help their team.

“It’s an extraordinary opportunity, and we want to highlight and feature these guys. I’ve told my guys that we’re going to feature you and let these guys know how good you are. All you have to do is your part and play to the best of your abilities.”

The current Showcase features a number of players with NBA experience, such as Antoine Walker and Luke Jackson (Idaho), Mario West (Maine), and Joe Alexander and Sean Williams (Texas). Some top prospects: Marcus Cousin (Austin), Trey Johnson (Bakersfield), Chris Johnson (Dakota), Ivan Johnson (Erie), Darnell Lazare (Fort Wayne), Othyus Jeffers and Kyle Weaver (Iowa), DeShawn Sims (Maine), Shane Edwards (New Mexico), Patrick Ewing Jr. and D.J. Strawberry (Reno), Jeff Adrien, Jerel McNeal and Mustafa Shakur (Rio Grande), JamesOn Curry and Scottie Reynolds (Springfield), Robert Vaden and Latavious Williams (Tulsa), and Orien Greene (Utah Flash).

“The NBA D-League Showcase affords NBA teams an opportunity to evaluate all of the NBA D-League’s talented prospects in one location, and we’ve seen a number of NBA teams sign players both during and immediately following past Showcases,” said Chris Alpert, vice president of basketball operations and player personnel for the D-League.

The action on South Padre also includes a Three-Point and Slam Dunk Contest, plus clinics for area schools and community organizations. The players are also taking part in several life-skills seminars.

Monday Showcase Schedule (times ET)
Sioux Falls vs. Tulsa, 12:00 pm, NBA TV
Utah vs. Iowa, 2:45 pm, NBA TV
Texas vs. New Mexico, 5:30 pm, NBA Futurecast
Fort Wayne vs. Rio Grande Valley, 8:15 pm, AOL Fanhouse

D-League Savvy

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – Since we’ve already been informed that the NBA D-League show will go on next season no matter what happens with the NBA’s collective bargaining negotiations, don’t you think Kenny and Charles need to brush up a little bit on their D-League details?

Nets invading Springfield…sorta

The New Jersey Nets are dipping their toes and more into the NBA Development League by agreeing to take over the basketball operations of the Springfield Amor next season.

The Nets are the second team to broker such an arrangement while entering into a single-affiliation setup with Springfield. The Houston Rockets pioneered the “hybrid” model to great success with the Rio Grande Valley Vipers, the defending D-League champs.

The NBA team in the hybrid model assumes control and is responsible for all expenses involved in all basketball decisions, including the hiring of a coaching staff and management team, and building the roster. Local ownership maintains responsibility for off-the-court business operations. The setup is similar to a Major League baseball team and its minor league affiliates.

Billionaire Russian owner Mikhail Prokhorov wants his Nets to be the league’s first global team. The partnership with Springfield helps build the operation at home, as the Prokhorov crew gets another basketball team to work with and gain experience from.

Starting next season, the Nets will be able to assign their players to Springfield to play under their hand-picked coaches in their system.

“We feel that the ‘hybrid’ arrangement will allow our basketball team to maximize its affiliation with the NBA D-League and allow Springfield to serve as a fertile training ground for our players, coaches and front office personnel, only strengthening our basketball product,” Nets general manager Billy King said.

The Armor’s current affiliations for this season are with the Nets, New York Knicks and Philadelphia 76ers.

Lieberman & Legends tip off D-League

Groundbreaking coach Nancy Lieberman and her Texas Legends tip off coverage of the NBA Development League’s 10th season Nov. 18 on VERSUS. The Legends, co-owned by Dallas Mavericks general manager Donnie Nelson, are facing the defending D-League champion Rio Grande Valley Vipers.

Lieberman, a Hall of Famer, is making her debut as the first female coach of a men’s professional team on national TV. VERSUS, in its second year with the D-League, will broadcast 11 regular-season games, six playoff games and the 2011 D-League Finals.

The network is also airing one live game from the annual D-League Showcase, in addition to the new slam-dunk and 3-point contests. The Showcase is taking place Jan. 10-13 in South Padre Island, Texas.

VERSUS is going all out this season. Look for micing players and coaches during both games and in-game interviews; coverage of pregame, halftime, and postgame speeches from the locker room; and more camera angles on the court.

There should be plenty of stories to tell. NBA rosters on opening night featured a record-tying 63 players with D-League experience. Some of those D-League vets include Shannon Brown (L.A. Lakers), Aaron Brooks (Houston Rockets), Will Bynum (Detroit Pistons), JJ Barea (Dallas Mavericks), Marcin Gortat (Orlando Magic), and Reggie Williams (Golden State Warriors).

Here’s the D-League broadcast schedule on VERSUS.