Blake Ahearn shows he’s among the best at the NBA D-League Showcase

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Blake Ahearn has been in the NBA Development League for longer than most people would like considering he’s played 149 games in the NBA’s official minor league since coming out of Missouri State University in 2007. He may have changed that this week, however, while starring for the hometown Reno Bighorns at the eighth annual D-League Showcase.

The 6-foot-3 guard scored 21 points and dished six assists in 32 minutes during a 107-72 blowout victory over the Iowa Energy in Wednesday evening’s nightcap. It was a breakaway dunk that caught the attention of the scouts in attendance, however, as the D-League’s leading scorer — known as an excellent shooter — showed he’s a bit of an athlete as well. Ahearn’s teammates weren’t bad either, as the blowout would lead one to believe, as Andre Emmett, Bobby Simmons and Terrance Thomas all scored in double digits while Sacramento Kings assignee Hassan Whiteside swatted four shot attempts and finished with a +28 in the +/- column before all was said and done on the third day of the D-League Showcase.

Ahearn wasn’t the only player to showcase NBA talents on Wednesday, though, as the entire day showed the depth that Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey told Pro Basketball talk all about in an interview on Wednesday.

Gerald Green, the former first round pick best known for his dunking exploits during his time in the NBA, seemed like a much smarter player than most remembered while make 13 of his 17 shot attempts for 34 points off the Los Angeles D-Fenders’ bench in the first of four games on Monday. Dallas Mavericks training camp invite Jerome Randle scored 24 points for Green’s opponents, the Maine Red Claws, but it wasn’t enough as the D-Fenders pulled out a 106-94 victory.

  • Booker Woodfox was excellent off the bench for the Texas Legends on Wednesday as he followed up a 22-point performance on Tuesday with 20 points off the bench in a victory over the Sioux Falls Skyforce. One of Woodfox’s teammates — former NBA center Greg Ostertag — stole the show though with 10 points and eight rebounds in 21 minutes.
  • The Bakersfield Jam were led by an unlikely hero when back-up forward Juan Pattillo scored 33 points and grabbed nine rebounds in a 113-98 victory over the Idaho Stampede in Wednesday’s second game. The Stampede were done in when NBA assignee Armon Johnson, a former second round pick of the Portland Trail Blazers, made just one of his 13 shot attempts while turning the ball over six times in a loss.

The final day of the D-League Showcase tips off on Thursday at 1 p.m. ET with the Austin Toros taking on the Dakota Wizards.

Spencer Dinwiddie signs three-year, $34 million extension to stay with Nets

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There were a lot of general managers eyeing Spencer Dinwiddie as a quality point guard they could grab on the free agent market this summer at a fair price. The hardworking point guard out of the University of Colorado has averaged 16.9 points and 4.8 assists for the Nets this season, is shooting 36.8 percent from three, knows how to be a good floor general, and while a lot of fans may not know his name smart front offices around the league saw an above-average point guard that would fit their system.

Which is why the Nets decided to lock him up and not let him leave Brooklyn. The team announced the deal, Dinwiddie himself confirmed it, and Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN had the details.

That’s an above the league average but low starter money, and it’s a good deal for Dinwiddie, who is making $1.6 million this year and that’s the largest payday of his career.

If you don’t know what Dinwiddie can do on the court, go ask the Sixers — he dropped 39 on them last night.

The Nets are trying to build a culture and have a core of smart, solid players to put stars around, and Dinwiddie fits right into this model. They could have tried to lowball him and save some money, but that came with the risk of losing him this summer. The Nets decided to take care of their own instead, a good sign for the franchise.

Raptors’ Jonas Valanciunas undergoes surgery on dislocated thumb, out a month

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It was clear it was bad when it happened. Not because of the violence of the play by Draymond Green — no foul was called, and the hand is part of the ball by rule in these cases — but because of Jonas Valanciunas‘ reaction. The man was in a lot of pain.

With 8 minutes to go in the second quarter of the Raptors win Wednesday night, Valanciunas got the ball with Green on him and decided to back down the smaller player, Green reached in and swiped down knocking the ball away but getting Valanciunas’ hand in the process.

Thursday the Raptors announced that Valanciunas had surgery on his dislocated left thumb and will be out at least a month.

This is a blow to the Raptors’ frontline depth, although they still have plenty of talent up front. Serge Ibaka starts most nights at center, and at times the Raptors go small and put breakout player Pascal Siakam at the five. However, Valanciunas is their matchup for other bigger, more traditional centers, or sometimes coach Nick Nurse tries him to force a mismatch. Valanciunas is averaging 12.8 points and 7.2 rebounds a night playing nearly 19 minutes a night, the Raptors defense is 3 points per 100 possessions better, and the Raptors outscore opponents by 5.4 per 100 when he is on the court. It will not be easy to fill his minutes.

The Raptors are 23-7 and the team in first place in the East having just knocked off the Clippers and Warriors in back-to-back nights on the road. They look like contenders, but they could use Valanciunas to help them get through the regular season (he’s harder to play in the postseason, but we’re not there yet).

 

Hornets owner Michael Jordan: Smacking Malik Monk was ‘tap of endearment’

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Hornets owner Michael Jordan smacked guard Malik Monk on the back head of the head, because Monk prematurely ran on the court to celebrate Jeremy Lamb‘s game-winner against the Pistons last night. Charlotte received a technical foul for having too many men on the court, but held on for the victory.

Zach Aldridge of WCCB:

Some people took affront to Jordan putting his hands on Monk – to the point Jordan explained himself.

Associated Press:

Hornets owner Michael Jordan says lightly smacking the back of second-year guard Malik Monk’s head in closing seconds of Wednesday night’s win against the Pistons was a “tap of endearment.”

The Hornets owner, says “It was like a big brother and little brother tap. No negative intent. Only love!”

I doubt any other NBA owner could have gotten away with that.

But Jordan isn’t any other NBA owner.

He’s a former player, widely respected as the greatest of all-time. He’s black. He’s just 55, younger than most of his owner peers.

Jordan and Monk can relate in a way other owners and players can’t.

The power dynamic still isn’t balanced. Jordan is Monk’s boss. When initially watching the exchange, I worried Jordan crossed a line.

But both Jordan and Monk laughed it off. I believe this truly was acceptable in the context of their relationship.

LeBron James on consideration given to signing with Rockets: ‘Not much’

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For a while, it seemed LeBron Jamesfinalists in free agency last summer were the Lakers, Cavaliers, 76ers and Rockets.

LeBron obviously signed with the Lakers. Cleveland remains special to him. His agent met with Philadelphia.

And then there’s Houston.

Dave McMenamin of ESPN:

The Rockets – led by Chris Paul – reportedly recruited LeBron hard.

But LeBron reportedly previously said he didn’t like Houston as a city, and at this point, it’s impossible escape lifestyle as a key consideration for the superstar. He clearly enjoys Los Angeles.

I doubt LeBron regrets dropping the Rockets from consideration early. The main appeal would have been their direction path to championship contention, but they’ve been the NBA’s most disappointing team this season.

Which makes it even easier for LeBron to dismiss his Houston consideration.