The Hornets may not have been entirely truthful in their dismissal of Luther Head

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Luther Head agreed with the New Orleans Hornets on the terms of a new two-year, $2.5 million contract, but one GM later, he was left out in the cold. The Hornets claimed that Head failed his physical due to a bum ankle, and the Hornets used that claim to sever ties with Head.

In the aftermath of that decision, there were whispers aplenty that Head had been done wrong (link via Tom Ziller of FanHouse); perhaps there was nothing wrong with Head’s ankle at all, and though the Hornets organization had originally agreed to contractual terms with him, he was no longer in the team’s plans after a management shift.

Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports has cited “several sources” confirming that to be the case, and the implications of the Hornets’ alleged ruse have apparently extended to Head’s dealings with other franchises as well:

And yet like the
rest of the league, the Kings were unwilling to guarantee the deal
because Hornets president Hugh Weber declared that Head had flunked his
physical in July.

Head had agreed to a one-year deal with Hornets GM Jeff Bower, only
to have the GM fired within days of the verbal agreement. It appeared
that Weber didn’t want Head under contract for the next GM, and
cancelled the agreement after the physical. Several sources insisted
that there was nothing wrong with the ankle, and Weber’s decision
appears to have made it more difficult for Head, 28, to find a job this
summer.

The team may have wanted to change directions mid-stride, leaving Head in a pretty crummy situation as a result. Then again, unnamed sources always deserve their grains of salt, and there are logical reasons to question pro-Head reports. If everyone knows Head’s cut was bogus, then the effectiveness of the smokescreen would be null, and other teams would have no reason to assume Head is damaged goods. Additionally, isn’t this all a bit much to clear Head’s near-minimum two-year salary off the books?

Still, if Head’s future contract negotiations were affected by New Orleans’ regime change, it’s a pretty raw deal. It’s one thing for the Hornets to decide that they no longer require Head’s services, and another entirely for their contract takesies backsies to harm Head’s other chances at guaranteed money.

Head is now left to fend for a roster spot in the Sacramento Kings camp, with a partially guaranteed, one-year contract. If things did indeed go as Wojnarowski’s sources indicated, I think it’s safe to say that the aftertaste of his dealings with the Hornets may be a tad bitter.

Former Lakers forward Tommy Hawkins dies

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LOS ANGELES (AP) — Tommy Hawkins, the first black athlete to earn All-America honors in basketball at Notre Dame and who played for the Los Angeles Lakers during a 10-year NBA career, has died. He was 80.

Hawkins died Wednesday in Malibu, according to the Los Angeles Dodgers, for whom he once worked as director of communications.

He graduated from Notre Dame in 1959. Hawkins was inducted into the school’s Ring of Honor and his 1,318 career rebounds remain the oldest record on the books in Fighting Irish basketball history.

Hawkins was selected by the Minneapolis Lakers in the first round of the 1959 NBA draft. He played for them as well as the Cincinnati Royals, and notched 6,672 career points and 4,607 rebounds.

Nuggets hire assistant coach, assistant general manager

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DENVER (AP) — The Denver Nuggets have hired veteran NBA coach Bob Weiss as an assistant on Michael Malone’s staff and announced the hiring of Calvin Booth as an assistant general manager.

Weiss has coached 31 seasons in the NBA, including the last four as an assistant with the Charlotte Hornets. He’s been a head coach with four teams, compiling a 223-299 career record with the Spurs, Hawks, Clippers and SuperSonics.

Prior to coaching, Weiss played a dozen seasons in the NBA.

Also Wednesday, the Nuggets made official their hiring of Booth, 41, who spent the previous four seasons in the Minnesota Timberwolves front office, serving as director of pro personnel last season.

Booth has quietly emerged as a respected evaluator of talent. He was one of the holdovers in the front office when Tom Thibodeau was hired to take over last summer as president of basketball operations and coach.

After one season working under Thibodeau and GM Scott Layden, Booth left for a promotion with the Nuggets, taking a position that will give him more responsibility and a greater say in the direction of another young team on the rise in the Western Conference.

Booth joins a Nuggets front office that includes Tim Connelly, who was promoted earlier this summer to president of basketball operations, a move that allowed Denver to hold on to promising executive Arturas Karnisovas as the team’s general manager.

Booth spent 10 years as a player in the league. Four of those seasons were with the Washington Wizards while Connelly was working there. The two also worked together in New Orleans in 2012-13, when Connelly was the assistant GM and Booth was a scout.

 

Rasheed Wallace says Zach Randolph isn’t a drug dealer: ‘The bigger the paycheck, the bigger the party’

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Kings big man Zach Randolph is charged with possessing marijuana with intent to sell, a felony – not because law enforcement has evidence Randolph planned to sell the drug, but because of the amount of the drug found.

Randolph’s agent/attorney denied the allegations.

Also sticking up for Randolph? Rasheed Wallace, who played with Randolph on the Trail Blazers.

Wallace, via TMZ:

“It seems to be — no matter who you are — the bigger the paycheck, the bigger the party,” Sheed says.

“I know for a fact he ain’t no dope dealer.”

Charging someone for intending to distributing drugs without any proof he intends to distribute drugs is hazardously lazy. Randolph – who has earned about $175 million in his career and is on a two-year, $24 million contract with Sacramento – can afford more marijuana than most. That doesn’t mean he plans to sell it.

The stakes are high for Randolph. If he’s convicted of “a felony involving the distribution of marijuana,” per the Collective Bargaining Agreement, he’d be banned from the NBA for at least two years.

Report: Enes Kanter not yet permitted to travel to Mexico, where Thunder scheduled to play

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Remember when Turkey revoked Enes Kanter‘s passport?

That looms over the Thunder’s Dec. 7 game against the Nets in Mexico City.

Fred Katz of The Norman Transcript:

Without a valid passport, he is unable to travel to another country other than Canada, which allows entry from U.S. residents who have a Green Card. There is no such agreement with Mexico.

Kanter could receive a re-entry permit, a special document issued to citizens of other countries whose passports have been canceled for reasons the U.S. government deems unsuitable. The permit would allow Kanter to leave the U.S. for another country, such as Mexico, and still return. And the plan is for Kanter to acquire one before OKC’s game in Mexico City. Still, he is yet to receive a re-entry permit, according to a source with knowledge of the situation. There is, however, still ample time for that process to complete.

Kanter is a high-profile millionaire working for a billion-dollar company that has a vested interest in getting him to Mexico. He likely works this out.