NBA News & Notes: Clippers sign Blake Griffin, Minnesota signs Jamal Crawford

July 20, 2017

In this week's NBA news, the Clippers rebounded from their recent Chris Paul fire sale by essentially rebranding the franchise as Blake Griffin's team . . .

Clippers sign Blake Griffin

The L.A. Clippers announced that they have re-signed star free agent forward Blake Griffin.  Other outlets have reported the deal is for five years at $173 million.

“I just want to say how excited I am to be back. Obviously, this has been my home since I have been drafted.” Griffin said. “In the end, I realized this was a no-brainer for me. This was the best place for me, and this is the place where I want to start and finish my career.”

The signing signifies a new chapter in Griffin's career, as he will become the face of the franchise given the recent Chris Paul trade.

It also means more responsibility for Griffin because he will no longer benefit from Paul's passing and leadership.  Whether Griffin can assume such a burden remains to be seen, especially considering his extensive injury history.

Griffin, 28, averaged 21.6 points, 8.1 rebounds and 4.9 assists in 61 games (all starts) last season for L.A. The five-time All-Star has played his entire career with the Clippers since being drafted first overall in the 2010 NBA Draft out of Oklahoma. In 471 career games (all starts), he holds averages of 21.5 points, 9.4 rebounds and 4.1 assists.

On April 1, 2017, Griffin reached 10,000 career points, becoming the first player in team history to tally 10,000-plus points exclusively in a Clippers uniform.

Griffin was the 2010-11 NBA Rookie of the Year and has been an All-NBA performer four times throughout his career.

Kevin Durant to visit basketball academy in India

The NBA announced that Kevin Durant of the Golden State Warriors will visit India to support the continued growth of basketball in the country and coach the country’s top prospects at The NBA Academy India.

Durant, the 2017 Bill Russell NBA Finals Most Valuable Player, will travel to New Delhi on July 27 to donate two new basketball courts to the Ramjas School as part of the Kevin Durant Charity Foundation’s BUILD IT AND THEY WILL BALL Courts Renovation Initiative.

Durant will then visit The NBA Academy India in Noida, becoming the first active NBA player to visit the academy.  Durant will coach the prospects through a series of shooting, passing, dribbling and defensive drills.  Later in the afternoon at the academy, Durant will lead a large-scale basketball clinic for 5,000 youth from the Reliance Foundation Jr. NBA program – 1,000 of the athletes will be onsite while the other 4,000 boys and girls will join virtually from Bengaluru, Chennai, Hyderabad and Kolkata via a satellite link.

“I’m excited to travel to India to help promote the game of basketball and meet the prospects at The NBA Academy India,” said Durant.  “I’ve wanted to visit India for a long time, and I can’t wait to experience the country’s unique culture and share my knowledge with the kids there.”

Durant, a 6’9” forward from the University of Texas, was selected second overall by the Seattle SuperSonics in the 2007 NBA Draft.  An eight-time NBA All-Star and the 2014 NBA Most Valuable Player, Durant averaged 25.1 points, 8.3 rebounds, 4.8 assists, 1.6 blocks and 1.1 steals per game during the 2016-17 NBA season while leading the Golden State Warriors to the franchise’s fifth NBA Championship.

Timberwolves sign Jamal Crawford

No team has had a bigger shake-up this offseason than Minnesota, as the team has geared up for a playoff run by shipping off some of its young talent for veterans.

This week Minnesota added another such veteran to its bench, announcing that it signed high-scoring sixth man Jamal Crawford.

Crawford, 37, played in all 82 regular season games for the Los Angeles Clippers this past season, averaging 12.3 points and 2.6 assists per contest while shooting 36.0% from three-point range.

Crawford can play at either guard spot, and has won the NBA Sixth Man Award three times (2015-16, 2013-14 and 2009-10). One of his best seasons was 2007-08 with the Knicks when he averaged a career-high 20.6 points and 5.0 assists in 80 games.

The 6-5 guard owns career averages of 15.3 points and 3.5 assists in 1182 games (433 starts) over 17 seasons with the Bulls, Knicks, Warriors, Hawks, Trail Blazers and Clippers. Crawford is a career 35.0% shooter from beyond the arc. He has appeared in the postseason seven times, including the last five seasons with the Clippers, posting career playoff averages of 14.5 points and 2.2 assists.

Spurs sign Lauvergne

The San Antonio Spurs announced that they have signed forward/center Joffrey Lauvergne.

Lauvergne, 6-11/260, has played three seasons in the NBA with career averages of 6.1 points and 4.0 rebounds in 15.0 minutes in 153 total games. Originally selected by the Memphis Grizzlies in the second round of the 2013 NBA Draft (55th overall) he was part of a draft night trade that sent him to Denver, where he spent his first two seasons in the league and averaged 6.7 points and 4.4 rebounds in 15.8 minutes.

On Aug. 30, 2016, Lauvergne was dealt to Oklahoma City, where he averaged 5.7 points and 3.7 rebounds in 14.8 minutes over 50 games before being sent to Chicago on Feb. 23, 2017. In 20 games for the Bulls he averaged 4.5 points and 3.4 rebounds in 12.1 minutes.

A native of France, Lauvergne has played alongside Spurs guard Tony Parker for the French Senior National Team since 2013 in events including EuroBasket in 2013 and 2015, as well as the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio where he averaged 9.8 points and 4.2 rebounds in 17.5 minutes.

Spurs Summer League team loses in quarterfinals to Blazers

After making it to the quarterfinals of the 2017 NBA Summer League, the San Antonio Spurs fell to the Portland Trail Blazers by a final score of 94-87 at the Thomas and Mack Center.

Bryn Forbes, the leading scorer in the Las Vegas Summer League, scored 7 of his 13 points in the opening frame to help the Spurs lead 24-22 at the end of the first quarter. Portland took a 47-40 lead at halftime, but San Antonio shot 53.3 percent in the third quarter to tie the game 65-65 going into the fourth.

Forbes fouled out with just under six minutes remaining and Trail Blazers forward Jake Layman scored 13 of his game-high 23 points in the fourth quarter to knock the Spurs out of the tournament. Rookie guard Derrick White led San Antonio with 20 points (7-15 FG, 3-5 3FG, 3-4 FT), his highest scoring game of the summer league, while Jeff Ledbetter tacked on 13 and Olivier Hanlan added 11.

Bryn Forbes recorded 13 points in 19 minutes before fouling out with just under six minutes remaining. He remains the leading scorer in the 2017 Summer League, averaging 26.0 points in Las Vegas. Forbes led San Antonio in scoring in six of the team’s eight total summer league contests and averaged 24.3 points in eight appearances.

Derrick White, the Spurs 2017 first round draft pick, scored a team-high 20 points off the bench. His 20 points were the most he scored in a game this summer league, where he led the team in scoring twice and averaged 11.8 points in six total appearances.

Olivier Hanlan started his third straight game, scoring double figures in each contest. Hanlan posted 11 points, a team-high 4 assists and 3 rebounds in 28 minutes.

San Antonio ends the 2017 Summer League with a 4-4 record overall, including a 1-2 mark in Utah and a 3-2 run in Las Vegas.

Coach Ron Rothstein honored

Ron Rothstein, an innovative and illustrious Assistant Coach for five different NBA teams and three NBA Championships, is the recipient of the 2017 Tex Winter Assistant Coach Lifetime Impact Award, the National Basketball Coaches Association (NBCA) announced.

“Ron Rothstein is most deserving of this prestigious recognition. Over several decades, Ronnie has helped countless players and coaches become their very best while continually helping promote the NBA game. I had the privilege to work with Coach Rothstein during the 2003-04 season. As an assistant for me in Indiana that year, Ron was a high impact contributor to our Pacers team that set a franchise record with 61 wins. More recently, Ronnie was top assistant to Erik Spoelstra during Miami's run of back to back Championships in 2012 and 2013,” said Dallas Mavericks Head Coach and NBCA President Rick Carlisle.

Rothstein, who has spent over 50 years in the game and 26 years on an NBA bench, began his NBA career in 1979 as the northeastern U.S. regional scout for the Atlanta Hawks. In 1982, he moved to a similar position with the New York Knicks before becoming an Assistant Coach with the Hawks in 1983. After spending three seasons on the Hawks bench, Rothstein joined the Detroit Pistons coaching staff as an Assistant Coach in 1986 where he was credited with establishing the defensive mindset and principles that helped the Pistons reach the Eastern Conference Finals in 1987 and the NBA Finals in 1988.

He was the Miami Heat’s first Head Coach in 1988 and led the team for three years, increasing the team’s victory total each year. He also served as Head Coach of the Detroit Pistons and General Manager and Head Coach of the WNBA Miami Sol for their three years of existence.

Rothstein spent the last 10 years of his renowned coaching career as an Assistant Coach for the Miami Heat. After helping win the 2006 NBA Championship as an Assistant Coach for Pat Riley, he transitioned to Erik Spoelstra’s staff where he was a part of two more championship teams. Overall, he coached in 9 Eastern Conference Championships and 6 NBA Finals.

Prior to joining the NBA, Rothstein was a high school coach for 19 years and was selected Westchester County (NY) Coach of the Year in 1979 while at Eastchester High School in New York.

Rothstein made the following statement:
“I would like to thank the NBCA for the honor of being chosen as this year’s recipient of the Tex Winter Assistant Coach Lifetime Impact Award. This is not only an honor, it is also a truly humbling experience.
Over the course of my 22 years as an Assistant Coach, I have been fortunate enough to work for seven outstanding Head Coaches. It all started in 1979 when Mike Fratello recommended me to Hubie Brown, then Head Coach of the Atlanta Hawks. Hubie hired me as a part-time regional NBA scout while I was still a high school teacher and coach. My first full-time Assistant Coaching job was with Mike Fratello and the Atlanta Hawks. Following that, I joined Chuck Daly and the Detroit Pistons. Next, I rejoined Mike Fratello with the Cleveland Cavaliers, followed by Rick Carlisle and the Indiana Pacers, and then finished the last 10 years of my coaching career with the Miami Heat, working for Stan Van Gundy, Pat Riley and Erik Spoelstra. Not many Coaches get as lucky as I did to work with and for so many brilliant and successful Head Coaches. I can’t thank them enough for all that they have done for my family and me over the course of my career.
Thanks, also, to the GM’s I have had the privilege to work for: Stan Kasten (Atlanta Hawks), the late Jack McCloskey (Detroit Pistons), Wayne Embry (Cleveland Cavaliers), Donnie Walsh/Larry Bird (Indiana Pacers) and Pat Riley (Miami Heat). Not many Coaches can put together a list like that. What a privilege it was to work for them.
To all the players I have had the good fortune to work with, thank you for all that you have done to contribute to my success. Obviously, none of this was possible without your dedication, hard work, talent, and professionalism.
I have been fortunate enough to have lived and worked in the NBA through the Golden Years all the way to the wildly successful years of today’s era. All my family and I can say is thank you, thank you, thank you.
Last but not least, a huge thank you to my beautiful wife of 51 years, Olivia, who has been by my side every step of the way, and to my children and grandchildren, as well, for all their love and support.”

The National Basketball Coaches Association Tex Winter Assistant Coach Lifetime Impact Award honors the tremendous achievements and commitment of Hall of Fame Tex Winter, who over an outstanding NBA coaching career set a standard of integrity, competitive excellence, loyalty, and tireless promotion of NBA basketball.

By Staff of and news services

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