Jazz put the ball in Kyrylo Fesenko's court, but he has yet to make a decision

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kyrylo_fesenko.jpgUkranian big man, Utah Jazz playoff stop-gap, and impeccable jokester Kyrylo Fesenko is still job-hunting, and hasn’t yet committed to a return with the Jazz next season. Utah has already extended a qualifying offer to Kyrylo, a restricted free agent, that would pay him around $1.1 million next season before becoming an unrestricted free agent in the summer of 2011. However, according to HoopsWorld, Fesenko is entertaining the idea of signing with a European team for a more lucrative contract, even if he’s leaning toward re-signing with the Jazz.

I know. Late off-season rumors.

This may seem like a bit much for a player barely on the NBA radar until an injury to Mehmet Okur demanded it. After all, for all of the talk about Fesenko’s play in the post-season, this is a guy who posted a playoff PER of 3.0. Three. Mark Madsen danced circles around that.

Still, Fes played reasonably well considering the circumstances, and provided height and a pinch of defense for a Jazz team in a jam. Plus, he once vowed to become a more serious player by limiting himself to five jokes a day. This is a guy that we want in the NBA, even if he’s not registering regular playing time behind Paul Millsap, Al Jefferson, and Mehmet Okur.

The Jazz are optimistic for Fesenko’s return, according to Brian T. Smith of the Salt Lake Tribune, so that’s something. He needs an NBA gig because we need him, and, if you really want to get into it, there are some legitimate basketball justifications available, too. He’s familiar with Jerry Sloan’s flex offense, which isn’t something that can be taught to a free agent big overnight. Offenses with that kind of complexity just aren’t made for rental big men, so it makes sense for Utah to hold onto Fesenko, who is a perfectly decent reserve.

For now, that’s all Fesenko is. He hasn’t shown the aptitude to evolve beyond that role as of yet, and I’m not sure he ever will. Nothing wrong with that. Nothing wrong with being a second or third center in the best basketball league on the planet. Nothing at all. Unless Fesenko really does want to chase the money and minutes a European team could offer, which would be a tragedy for us here in the States.

We’ve already had to live in a world with five or fewer Fes jokes a day. Can you imagine the NBA world with none at all?

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.