Posts Tagged ‘NBA D-League’

Morning shootaround — Jan. 13


VIDEO: Highlights from games played Jan. 12

NEWS OF THE MORNING

Green likely to rest next 2 games | Wall needs MRI on knee muscle | Report: Davis to sign D-League deal | Rose’s knee to be re-evaluated | Mavs still struggling against elite squads

No. 1: Warriors likely to rest Green in next 2 games — Golden State Warriors power forward Draymond Green has made a pretty solid case already this season that he’s perhaps the most versatile player at his position. If nothing else, he’s proven to be quite durable and resilient this season, what with the 36.1 minutes a game average and five triple-doubles he’s amassed since Dec. 1. As the schedule picks up for the Warriors, though, the team doesn’t want to burn out Green and is more than likely going to rest him over the next two games. Rusty Simmons of the San Francisco Chronicle has more:

The Warriors plan to rest their versatile power forward the next two games (Wednesday at Denver and Thursday at home against the Lakers), leaving open only the slight possibility that the vociferous competitor might persuade them otherwise.

Green is averaging a team-high 34.9 minutes per game, and joins Andre Iguodala as the only Warriors to play in each of the team’s first 38 games. He averaged 37 minutes per night when Harrison Barnes missed 16 games from Nov. 28 through Jan. 2.

The Warriors are in a grueling portion of the season, which with Thursday’s game, will have included five games in seven nights. The fourth game during that stretch is the always-arduous trek to Denver — a trip that usually involves losing an hour because of the time change, a long bus ride from the airport to the hotel and a game played at altitude.

Green is averaging 15.2 points, 9.7 rebounds and 7.3 assists and was third among Western Conference frontcourt players in the latest All-Star balloting, with updated results expected to be released Thursday.

His legs hurt, but he never wants to sit.

“They always want to play, but they also understand the big picture,” Walton said. “Earlier in the season, it was tough to have them included in the conversation, but this is a hard part of the season. Guys are worn down, and I think they understand now that if we come to them with the training staff saying it’s a smart idea to give them a night off here or there, they’ll be more receptive to that.”

Green had a long chat with head coach Steve Kerr and general manager Bob Myers after Tuesday’s practice. If Green is persuaded to rest the next two games — an official announcement is expected at Wednesday morning’s shootaround — the Warriors could play small by starting Barnes at power forward or go with a more conventional lineup by inserting reserve big men Marreese Speights or Jason Thompson.

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Morning Shootaround — Jan. 10


VIDEO: The Fast Break: January 9

NEWS OF THE MORNING

A kinder, gentler Bryant? | Lopez doesn’t regret sticking with Brooklyn | Stevens rejoins Celtics | NBA’s Australians looking forward to Rio

No. 1: A kinder, gentler Bryant? For the Los Angeles Lakers, Kobe Bryant‘s farewell tour has become the focus of their season. Which may be a good thing, since the Lakers otherwise haven’t been very good, compiling an 8-30 record thus far. Yet despite all the losses, Kobe seems to be enjoying himself as he plays out the string, and the Los Angeles Times‘ Mike Bresnahan writes, has Kobe’s legendary burning desire to win faded a bit in this his final NBA season?

It was bad to be a trash can if Kobe Bryant was mad.

This was years ago, back when there were championship expectations, but Bryant booted one clear across the Lakers’ locker room at Madison Square Garden after a rough loss.

It was also sometimes bad to be toilet paper, apparently. Bryant angrily called his teammates “soft like Charmin” during a rant at practice in which he didn’t feel challenged. This was a little over a year ago.

The smoldering Bryant is now replaced by a smiling one, even as the Lakers (8-30) pinwheel toward the worst season in their 68-year history.

They played well Friday but lost a tight one to Oklahoma City. The new, lighthearted Bryant showed up again in the interview room, just like the previous night after a close loss in Sacramento.

The losses don’t seem as devastating to him.

“I just hide it a lot better,” he said Friday.

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No. 2: Lopez doesn’t regret sticking with Brooklyn Last summer, Brooklyn center Brook Lopez was one of the most talented big men available in free agency. He eventually re-upped with the Nets, and though the team has struggled this season, Lopez has been a bright spot, averaging 19.8 points to go with 7.8 rebounds. The Nets may face an uncertain future, but as Andy Vasquez writes for the Bergen Record, Lopez says he has no regrets about re-signing with the Nets…

The Nets are in the midst of another disappointing season, certainly far from what Lopez envisioned when he re-signed. But the 27-year-old doesn’t regret his decision.

“No, no, no. I’m happy to be here,” Lopez said Thursday at the team’s practice facility.

“Time and time again I’ve said I wanted to see something built here, I see a special opportunity, a great situation to be in.”

The current situation isn’t exactly a bright one. Brooklyn just lost starting point guard Jarrett Jack for the season with a torn ACL.

Rookie Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, who showed promise, is at least another month from returning from a broken ankle that has sidelined him since early December.

While the Nets aren’t mathematically eliminated from the NBA playoffs — it’s not even halfway through the season — they may as well be.

Brooklyn is closer (seven games ahead) in the standings to the awful Sixers than to the final playoff spot in the East (nine games behind).

The Nets don’t have control of their first round draft pick until 2019 thanks to the 2013 trade for Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce.

So the franchise’s best chance is to hope free agents agree with Lopez about there being a special opportunity in Brooklyn.

Despite all the doom and gloom, the Nets do have some things going for them.

They should have about $40 million in cap space next summer, enough to offer two max salaries to free agents.

Barclays Center is still the league’s newest arena and the team’s state-of-the art Brooklyn practice facility opens next month. And then there’s the lure of the nation’s largest media market.

“The opportunity to play in New York, first and foremost,” Lopez said, when asked how he’d pitch the Nets. “The facilities we have. I think, for me, it’s all about potential.”

That potential starts with Lopez and Thaddeus Young, 27, two nice players with several prime years remaining in their careers. Both are having seasons worthy of All-Star consideration.

Meanwhile, Hollis-Jefferson was better than expected when he played. And the Nets have an intriguing young prospect in Chris McCullough, who has spent the season rehabbing a torn ACL he suffered at Syracuse a year ago.

Add the right pieces and the Nets could be a good team next season. And Lopez said that matters more than anything.

“At the end of the day, it’s about winning, regardless of where you are,” Lopez said.

“Whether we’re luring free agents or want people to stay or whatever it is, you’ve got to be able to show them that there’s opportunities here for that. We have to have the right product on the court.”

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No. 3: Stevens rejoins Celtics Before joining the Boston Celtics, coach Brad Stevens led Butler University to several memorable NCAA Tournament appearances. And with his former Butler player Andrew Smith in the hospital battling cancer, Stevens recently missed a Celtics game in order to spend time with Smith. Stevens rejoined the Celtics on Saturday and, as the Boston Globe’s Gary Washburn writes, says the last few days helped put things into perspective…

Celtics coach Brad Stevens returned to the team Saturday, conducting a rather important practice at the University of Memphis in his quest to end the team’s recent doldrums.

He returned from his trip to Indiana with a heavy heart. He acknowledged visiting former player Andrew Smith, who has been suffering from non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, but wouldn’t offer specifics on his condition, only to say he felt compelled to visit him immediately.

Stevens left the club in Chicago on Thursday afternoon, missing the team’s 101-92 loss to the Bulls.

“It’s very tough, not as tough on me as it is certain on [Smith and his family], but certainly emotionally, very challenging,” Stevens said following practice at the Larry Finch Center. “It certainly puts things in a lot of perspective. The conditions [of Smith] were worsening. I’ll let [his family] talk about his condition. I’m glad that I went.”

Stevens returns to a team that has lost four of five games and fallen out of the top eight in the Eastern Conference.

The Celtics have been abysmal shooting from the field in their past two losses — 36.5 percent from the field, 25.5 percent from the 3-point line — and are playing with wavering confidence.

“We could have controlled things to give ourselves a little bit better chance,” Stevens said of the Chicago loss. “I told [the players] this today. We’ve got to get better in a lot of areas. But we usually play hard.

“Sometimes we play a little haphazard but we usually play hard, so we need to bottle that up and play a little more controlled at times.”

Isaiah Thomas, who has made just 11 of 37 shots in the last two games, took full responsibility for the Bulls loss, saying his poor body language and frustrations spilled over to his teammates. Stevens didn’t fully agree.

“I think it says a lot about him from an accountability standpoint,” Stevens said of Thomas. “And at the same time, that’s an overreaction too, because we don’t feel that way. He’s going to have his moments. Other guys are going to have their moments. Other guys are going to have bad moments. We just all have to be in this thing together. We need to improve.”

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No. 4: NBA’s Australians looking forward to Rio — The NBA has become a global league, followed worldwide and played by athletes from all corners of the earth. Australia, in particular, has become a hotbed of hoops, with its own popular domestic league and several NBA players who originated Down Under. As Roy Ward writes in the Sydney Morning Herald, the Australians in the NBA are looking forward to trying to find Olympic glory this summer in Rio…

The 82-game NBA season engulfs the lives of all players and Australia’s basketballers are not immune from this.

But on planes, buses or in down time, the country’s leading players admit their thoughts turn to the Rio Olympics and the glass ceiling that sits in front of a first men’s Olympic medal.

Andrew Bogut, Patty Mills, Matthew Dellavedova, Cameron Bairstow, Aron Baynes and Joe Ingles are all in thick of the action this season while Dante Exum continues to rehabilitate his reconstructed knee.

In Europe, in US college basketball and in the NBL sit the rest of the Boomers aspirants with the final 12-man squad not due to be announced until later in the year.

Since the team qualified for Rio in August last year, they have made public their goal to win the gold medal in Brazil despite Team USA’s long-running dominance in the men’s competition.

What adds credence to the Boomers’ brave stance is Bogut, Mills, Dellavedova and Bairstow are playing on NBA championship contenders while Bogut, Mills and Baynes have won NBA championship rings since 2014.

“There is a lot going on here but while it’s not the every day to day focus it’s always in your mind that it’s coming up and that all the boys are playing well, not just in the NBA but in Europe and the NBL,” Dellavedova said.

“We are all very excited and keep in regular touch through group message, we are going to catch up at All-Star break.

“We are all very excited, focused and committed to trying to do something really special at Rio and we realise the time is now for that.”

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SOME RANDOM HEADLINES: The Atlanta Hawks got a career night from Al Horford last night in a convincing win over the Bulls … Some changes may be in store for the D-League Showcase … Chicago is hoping to get Joakim Noah back from injury this weekRobin Lopez is starting to focus on his offensive post playIsaiah Canaan pays attention to advanced stats … Powerball fever may have been sweeping the nation the last few days, but don’t expect Dirk Nowitzki to get excited about it …

Morning shootaround — Jan. 8


VIDEO: Highlights from games played Jan. 7

NEWS OF THE MORNING

Report: Cavs’ Williams gets second opinion on thumb | Russell promises bigger things are in store for him | Report: DeRozan to opt out | Fredette still hoping for another NBA shot

No. 1: Report: Cavs’ Williams to get second opinion on thumb — The Cleveland Cavaliers have struggled with injury issues all season long and backup point guard Mo Williams is the latest name to land on that dubious list. Of late, Williams’ right thumb has been troubling him — the same thumb which Williams had two surgical procedures on in the past. According to Jason Lloyd of the Akron Beacon Journal, Williams is getting a second opinion on what’s ailing him of late:

Cavaliers guard Mo Williams traveled to New York during Thursday’s off day to receive a second opinion on his sore right thumb, a league source confirmed. Williams missed a week in December after reaggravating a thumb that has twice needed surgery to repair ligament damage.

Dr. Michelle Carlson, who practices in New York, performed both procedures — first in 2008 and again in 2013. Williams posted a picture to his Instagram account Thursday of a framed photo of him standing next to Carlson with the caption, “Best hand specialist in the world. New York weather off the chain today.”

Williams had pins inserted in the thumb during the previous procedures and has limited dexterity as a result, but he told the Beacon Journal last month he did not believe this injury was as serious as the two previous times he needed surgery.

Williams missed two months after surgery in 2013. The first surgery was performed following the 2007-08 season.

Williams has fallen out of the rotation with the return of Kyrie Irving, although it’s unclear now if the thumb was also a factor. He has not played in either of the Cavs’ two most recent games and only played during garbage time of last week’s blowout victory against the Orlando Magic.

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Santa Cruz to host 2016 Showcase

The NBA Development League is finalizing plans to return to Santa Cruz, Calif., for the 2016 Showcase, the annual gathering of every team for several days of games that draws front offices from around the NBA and overseas as a scouting bonanza.

Final details need to be resolved. But barring unexpected complications, an announcement is expected within about six weeks.

The D-League had considered rotating the Showcase among different cities each year, similar to the NBA with All-Star weekend, and also weighed making Las Vegas the semi-permanent home as the latest strengthening of ties with the NBA. Both scenarios will likely remain as options for future years, but D-League officials received so much positive feedback after Santa Cruz hosted the 2015 event in January that it was the only destination that appeared to receive serious consideration.

Santa Cruz, the home of the Golden State Warriors’ affiliate, is about 75 miles south of San Francisco on California’s Central Coast. The site received high marks from visitors for the gym, Kaiser Permanente Arena, the many dining options within walking distance during breaks and the organizing by the host team. It didn’t hurt that temperatures in January were usually in the 70s during the days with abundant sunshine.

The Santa Cruz Warriors also won the D-League championship in April.

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