Houston Rockets Jersey

The Houston Rockets are not renewing the contract of associate head coach Jeff Bzdelik, one of the architects of the team’s defensive turnaround this past season.

“Jeff’s contract was up. It will not be renewed,” Rockets general manager Daryl Morey told the Houston Chronicle. “We’re looking for any way to improve. That goes for players, coaches, front office, everything.”

Bzdelik, 66, was convinced to come out of retirement in November after the Rockets’ season got off to a rocky start.

Bzdelik started in the NBA 30 years ago as a scout, eventually working for Pat Riley with the New York Knicks and becoming head coach of the Denver Nuggets from 2002 to ’04. He was a college head coach with Air Force, Colorado and Wake Forest.

Anthony Davis Pelicans Jersey

David Griffin has agreed to a deal to become the executive VP of basketball operations for the New Orleans Pelicans, league sources told ESPN on Friday.

The immediate mandate for Griffin is unmistakable: Navigate a trade of All-NBA star Anthony Davis that’ll shape the future of the franchise.

Griffin will have full control of basketball operations, league sources said.

Griffin left his job as Cleveland Cavaliers general manager in 2017, punctuating a tenure that included the Cavaliers winning the NBA title in 2016 with LeBron James. Griffin spent 17 years in the Phoenix Suns’ front office.

Danny Ferry had been the interim GM after the dismissal of Dell Demps in April, and he told ESPN earlier Friday that he had withdrawn from the process, citing a desire to keep his family grounded in their Atlanta home.

“I let the Pelicans know throughout the process that, for a few reasons, the timing wasn’t right for my family to move full-time to New Orleans,” Ferry told ESPN in a text message. “It’s a great job and deserves a full-time focus.”

The hiring of Griffin, 46, is expected to come with an upgrade in staffing and resources committed to the franchise, sources said. Griffin has been particular in selecting his next job after leaving Cleveland, pulling out of searches in New York and Philadelphia when the circumstances didn’t feel like a fit.

New Orleans owner Gayle Benson has expressed a desire to further invest in the Pelicans. She also owns the NFL’s New Orleans Saints.

Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry worked with Griffin with the Suns, and he interviewed Griffin for the Cavaliers’ head-coaching job that eventually went to David Blatt. Gentry is a favorite of the organization, and he was expected to return next season regardless of the front-office hiring, sources said.

Davis demanded a trade earlier in the season, and he could become an unrestricted free agent in 2020.

Jarrett Allen Nets Jersey

WHEN JARRETT ALLEN wants to wind down after a game, he usually slips out of Barclays Center and makes the 30-minute walk to his Brooklyn home.

But with his 6-foot-11 frame and signature Afro, the Brooklyn Nets’ second-year center is easy to identify. So what Allen calls his “me time” is sometimes interrupted by patrons in bars and restaurants along the route.

“You can hear them yelling, ‘Oh, that’s Jarrett Allen!’” he says with a grin. “But you just keep walking and ignore it.”

This season, one viral moment made it clear that his “me time” during those walks home from the arena would be harder and harder to come by.

“When I blocked LeBron,” Allen says, “that’s when [everything] blew up.”

Allen’s defense at the rim this season — against LeBron James, Giannis Antetokounmpo, James Harden and anyone else who has challenged him — is one of many reasons why people around the NBA are taking notice of Brooklyn’s resurgence.

After averaging 23 wins over the past three years, the Nets — led by Allen, young guards D’Angelo Russell, Caris LeVert, Spencer Dinwiddie and a strong supporting cast — enter Wednesday’s game against the Oklahoma City Thunder in sixth place in the Eastern Conference standings.

Maybe Allen adds to his list of rejected All-Stars with a block of Russell Westbrook or Paul George. Or maybe he gets dunked on. He’s OK with either; Allen isn’t afraid of ending up on YouTube for a block attempt gone wrong.

“Either way, you’re going to be on the highlight [when you try to block a dunk],” Allen says. “If you go up and block it, you’ll be on the highlight. If you go up and get dunked on, you’ll be on the highlight. Just go up and protect the rim.”

Jarrett Allen joined the short list of players to block a LeBron James dunk attempt.

ALL THAT’S LEFT for Rondae Hollis-Jefferson to do is pray.

LeBron had just gone to his left to beat the Nets forward off the dribble, ready to elevate and throw down his signature right-handed slam for his first points of the night.

Hollis-Jefferson knows Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson won’t be happy if the Los Angeles Lakers superstar finishes the play with an easy dunk less than two minutes into the first quarter. So Hollis-Jefferson turns around, hoping to see his center somewhere near the rim as James switches hands and gathers himself 4 feet from the basket.

“When I turned and I see J about to jump, I was like, ‘Please block it,’” Hollis-Jefferson says. “Because if not, you’ll be on the top 10.”

Allen, positioned in the paint, reads James’ body language and knows that he’s looking to finish with a highlight.

“You can tell when any player is gathering to go and dunk it. … You can see [LeBron] brings it back a little bit when he goes up,” Allen says.

So the 20-year-old slides to his right, loads up and meets James at the rim, bracing for impact with the 260-pound forward. “People don’t know how powerful his dunks are,” Allen says.

They don’t find out on that December night in Brooklyn, as Allen rises roughly a foot above the rim to reject the king.

“As I saw it, really he came down the lane [so I went] up to contest the shot,” Allen says. “Just, you know, it’s LeBron.”

The ball careens off the backboard and Allen ends up on the ground, not immediately realizing the impact of the moment about to take over social media.

“But then you hear the crowd’s reaction,” Allen says. “And then what really gets you is you hear them start yelling again when they show the replay.”

Hours later, Allen finds out that he had become just the eighth player to block the four-time MVP, who has more than 1,800 dunk attempts in his career.

“That’s a hell of a list to be on,” Allen says.

“Growing up … everyone would say, ‘Are you going to jump when LeBron’s coming at you?’ I was like 13 years old [at the time]. That’s the opportunity right there.”

This season, Allen has had plenty of opportunities to meet some of the NBA’s biggest stars at the rim:

  • Oct. 17: Allen wasted no time getting on the board with this block of Blake Griffin, who was ready to add Allen to his mixtape on opening night.
  • Dec. 29: Allen turned an Antetokounmpo Eurostep into a highlight block when he met the Greek Freak at the rim in a game in Milwaukee. Allen denied Giannis again when the Bucks came to Brooklyn.
  • Jan. 2: After feeling the wrath of an Anthony Davis dunk in their previous meeting, Allen denied The Brow twice at the rim when the Nets faced the Pelicans in Brooklyn.
  • Jan. 16: Allen couldn’t stop Harden from extending his 30-point streak, but he sure ended any attempt at a highlight-reel dunk at the end of the first half in Houston.

“For people to keep going down there and trying him, I think that’s what they’re supposed to do,” Russell says. “But the percentages aren’t that successful.”

Allen has blocked 15 dunks this season, two behind JaVale McGee’s league-leading total. Allen ranks 12th in blocks per game and is among the game’s top rim defenders, holding opponents to a shooting percentage that is in the 75th percentile of players who defend at least three shots at the rim per game.

“He’s in that elite category,” Nets forward Ed Davis says.

Can't block 'em all: The ageless Vince Carter caught Jarrett Allen at the rim Saturday in Atlanta.

ALLEN DOESN’T REMEMBER the name Frederic Weis, but he has seen the footage of Vince Carter’s iconic dunk from the 2000 Olympics in Sydney. The way Allen sees it, the risk of ending up on the wrong end of a viral highlight is the cost of being a shot-blocker in the NBA.

“Nobody likes getting dunked on,” Allen says, but what separates him as a rim protector, teammates and coaches say, is his lack of concern over the public scorn that comes with being on the wrong end of a dunk.

“People call it a business decision. I don’t think about that,” Allen says. “I know my role on the team is to be a rim protector. So I’m going to sacrifice for the team.”

The Nets value that approach.

“There’s no bravado,” Atkinson says of Allen. “He’s not Dikembe [Mutombo, wagging his finger]. His personality is such that he doesn’t take [getting dunked on] personally and he goes back at it again.”

Adds Davis: “That’s half the battle. A lot of guys don’t want to be embarrassed. But if you’re a shot-blocker, that’s what comes with it. Sometimes you’re going to be on SportsCenter. But when you have that ‘I don’t give a f—’ attitude, most of the time you come out on the better end.”

Selected 22nd overall in 2017 with the pick the Nets acquired via trade from the Washington Wizards, Allen has come out on the better end of many highlights at the rim this season. But he also has shown that he’s more than just a shot-blocker.

In addition to his blocks per game (1.5), Allen has increased his scoring (11.2 PPG) and rebounding (8.5 RPG) in his second season, flashing an ability to finish with both hands — and through contact — around the basket. And Atkinson believes, in time, Allen can be a true threat from the perimeter.

“You’re going to see in two, three years he’s Al Horford-ish,” says Atkinson, who worked with Horford during his time with the Atlanta Hawks.

“A lot of guys don’t want to be embarrassed. But if you’re a shot-blocker, that’s what comes with it. Sometimes you’re going to be on SportsCenter.”
–Nets forward Ed Davis, on Jarrett Allen

Davis sees similar potential, which is why he believes Allen could one day be one of the highest-paid players at his position.

“I think he’s a $100 million player,” Davis says. “I don’t just throw that out there and say that about anybody. He’s got all the tools, he’s got the work ethic. Everything is going to fall in place.”

It’s not hard to see a nine-figure contract in Allen’s future. Clint Capela, Rudy Gobert, Steven Adams — players of a similar profile — have all inked sizeable extensions in recent seasons.

“He can certainly be in that class of big men,” one Eastern Conference executive says.

And if that comes to fruition — and Allen becomes the backbone of a contender in Brooklyn — some talent evaluators may have to explain their pre-draft analysis of the center to their bosses. Before the 2017 draft, some teams questioned the Austin, Texas, native’s dedication to the game. “That not loving basketball [label] is B.S.,” Atkinson says.

Allen believes it was due, in part, to his off-court interests, which include computer engineering (one of his current hobbies is fooling around with a Raspberry Pi, a single-board computer). “I’m not going to hold back myself from enjoying other things publicly,” Allen says. “I’m not going to hide that.”

Teams also asked Allen in pre-draft interviews if he’d have the courage to try to block dunk attempts from stars like James and Antetokounmpo — a question that’s typical in these settings. He heard the same question from his youth coaches in Texas. And his answer has always been the same:

“‘Are you going to jump with all of the high-flyers?’” Allen says. “I kept telling them, ‘Yeah I will.’

“I think they didn’t believe me.”

They do now. Over the past few months, Allen has showed those coaches, executives — and anyone else watching — that he can win the midair battles against some of the league’s best.

But he may need to find another way to unwind after a game in Brooklyn. Since his block party started, Allen has been recognized a bit too often, ending any chances at a peaceful trek back to his apartment.

“No more walks home,” he says, smiling.

Seth Curry Jersey

Golden State Warriors superstar Stephen Curry is used to pulling off trick shots that make fans go crazy and videos go viral — but Friday it was his mother, Sonya, who delivered the kind of moment her son has perfected.

As part of a Curry Family Foundation event at the Carole Hoefener Center to kick off All-Star Weekend in the family’s hometown of Charlotte, the Curry family was divided into four teams for a shooting contest.

Stephen and his wife, Ayesha, made up the first team. Portland Trail Blazers guard Seth Curry, and his fianceé, Callie Rivers, daughter of LA Clippers coach Doc Rivers, made up the second team. Warriors reserve guard Damion Lee, and his wife — Stephen and Seth Curry’s sister, Sydel — made up the third team. Dad and former Charlotte Hornets sharpshooter Dell Curry made up the final team with his wife, Sonya.

Each team was joined by another player as part of an All-Star Saturday-type event in which the group had to make a layup, a free throw, a 3-pointer and a half-court shot.

With time running out on the final group, Sonya drained an underhand half-court shot that set off a huge celebration from the Curry family. Cheers erupted throughout the floor and in the stands of the tiny gym that Stephen and his family helped refurbish, a facility where he practiced at times during his childhood.

“Obviously for it being All-Star Weekend and how much Charlotte’s meant to our family, we have an opportunity to kind of give back and really celebrate what this community has meant to us, and how we can kind of leave an imprint beyond this weekend,” Stephen said prior to the event. “I’m excited to kind of unveil what this whole center has to offer and kind of shine the light on this city the best way we can.”

Stephen said his family is still trying to sort out ticket requests for the weekend, with the number creeping toward triple digits as more family members continue to make their way here. Both Stephen and Seth will participate in the 3-point contest Saturday night. Stephen is a starter for Team Giannis in the All-Star Game on Sunday.

Stephen hinted that Dell, still a fan favorite in the city, will make some kind of appearance during the festivities Saturday night.

“I doubt he’ll be in the 3-point contest,” Stephen said. “But there may be something happening [Saturday]. I’m not sure if the plans have been finalized. But Saturday night, there’s obviously surprises all over the place no matter what year it is. Just this year with me and Seth being in there it takes it up another notch.”

Dillon Brooks Jersey

Memphis Grizzlies guard/forward Dillon Brooks is expected to miss the remainder of the season because of a ruptured ligament in his right big toe.

The Grizzlies announced Brooks underwent surgery Friday. They said Brooks should have a full recovery in time for the 2019-20 training camp.

Brooks, 22, appeared in 18 games this season off the bench, and averaged 7.5 points, 1.7 rebounds and 18.3 minutes.

The 6-foot-6, 220-pound Brooks, a former second-round pick from Oregon, was the only Memphis player to play in all 82 games last season. The Grizzlies acquired Brooks immediately after the Houston Rockets selected him with the 45th overall selection in the 2017 draft.

Brooks made 74 starts his rookie year, and averaged 11 points, 3.1 rebounds and 28.7 minutes.

Allonzo Trier Jersey

New York Knicks guard Allonzo Trier — a rookie revelation on a two-way contract — has signed a new deal, the team announced Thursday.

The deal is for two years, $7 million with a team option for the second year, sources told ESPN.

The Knicks were rapidly closing on 45 days of allowable NBA service under Trier’s two-way deal, clearing the way for general manager Scott Perry to negotiate use of the team’s full bi-annual exception over the next seasons.

Trier will earn nearly $3.4 million this season and $3.5 million in 2019-20 under the bi-annual exception, sources told ESPN.

Trier, 22, is signing the biggest contract to emerge out of the brief history of the two-way contract format — and a contract with the largest first-year salary for a non-international undrafted player. The previous high was Malcolm Delaney, who made $2.5 million in his first season with the Atlanta Hawks.

Trier has averaged 11.3 points, including 39 percent shooting on 3-pointers, in 23 minutes a game for the Knicks. He scored 25 points in a victory over New Orleans on Nov. 23.

His explosiveness and versatility captured the Knicks’ attention in the pre-draft process, where they worked out an agreement once Trier went undrafted.

Trier’s representatives at Independent Sports and Entertainment told teams that were interested in drafting him — with a contingency of signing him to a two-way contract — that Trier wouldn’t agree to that kind of a deal if selected in the second round. His agent, James Dunleavy, targeted a two-way free-agent deal with New York as the best opportunity for him to become a rotation player and contribute immediately.

In the end, the partnership blossomed into Trier quickly proving himself as a keeper for the rebuilding Knicks.

New York plans to have enough money to sign a top free agent in the summer of 2019. With the Trier signing, the Knicks project to have less than $30 million in cap space. The projected max contract for a player with 7-9 years of service is $32.7M and is $38.15M for a player with 10 or more years of service, which means the Knicks will need to clear more money from their 2019-2020 roster to have enough money to sign a max free agent.

Trier, a two-time All-Pac 10 performer, played three seasons at the University of Arizona. During his junior year, he tested positive for a banned substance prior to the NCAA tournament.

To make room for Trier, the Knicks cut Ron Baker, who started 14 games and averaged 3.3 points over three seasons with the Knicks, with whom he signed a two-year, $9 million deal in the summer of 2017.

“Ron is a true professional and we thank him for all of his contributions during his time with the Knicks,” Knicks president Steve Mills said in a statement. “His dedication and passion for the game are unquestioned and have been truly appreciated by our fans and organization.”

Jimmy Butler Jersey

Minnesota Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor appears ready to move on from the Jimmy Butler drama that overshadowed the start of the season, saying he had spent “too much of my time on things that were negative.”

In a series of interviews this week, Taylor detailed his thinking throughout the process that ended with Monday’s trade of Butler to the Philadelphia 76ers.

Taylor told the St. Paul Pioneer Press that the Timberwolves “wasted some time” trying to persuade Butler to stay in Minnesota. He added that he didn’t foresee how tumultuous and short Butler’s tenure in Minnesota would be.

“To me, I thought we were helpful to him, because he said he wanted to get out of Chicago, so I thought we were helpful,” Taylor said. “We certainly gave Chicago some really good young players. [Butler] came here with expectations that he would help lead the team, not only with scoring, but with his experience that he would share with our young guys and we got behind that.”

Butler joined the Timberwolves in a 2017 draft-day trade that sent Zach LaVine, Kris Dunn and Lauri Markkanen to the Bulls and brought Justin Patton to Minnesota. Butler, an All-Star the past four seasons, played 69 games for the Timberwolves.

Taylor told the Minneapolis Star Tribune that he felt Butler “had an agenda” that led to the situation spinning out of the Timberwolves’ control and creating a “negative environment.”

“It just appeared that they weren’t working together as a team or as a unit the way that they should’ve. I can’t exactly answer why,” Taylor said. “The only thing that was different that we had was Jimmy’s position of leaving the team.”

The effect that the Butler saga appeared to be having on Andrew Wiggins and Karl-Anthony Towns pushed Taylor into action, he said.

The owner said he was happy that the Timberwolves received assets in Robert Covington and Dario Saric who can help the team win this season as opposed to just hoarding draft picks for the future.

“That’s why when that possibility worked out that I thought that [this offer] was better than some of the other ones that might have included a [draft] pick or something like that,” Taylor told the Pioneer Press. “Of course, we love picks, but I thought that we immediately probably better bring a group together, and these two guys seem to fit in.”

Now Taylor’s attention has turned to the Timberwolves’ players and staff who remain. The owner addressed coach Tom Thibodeau’s job status, telling the Star Tribune he will be evaluated going forward without listing specific goals for success.

“OK, you now have your team,” Taylor said. “We made the trades. These are guys that you like, and let’s see what we can do.”

Kristaps Porzingis Jersey

All-Star guard Kyrie Irving said that before he committed to re-signing with the Boston Celtics, he strongly considered the New York Knicks as a potential free-agent destination.

“I mean, every team was under consideration, but obviously New York held a special place for me,” Irving said after the Celtics’ 103-101 win over the Knicks on Saturday night. “Just being from (New) Jersey and, obviously, envisioning myself as a free agent and ultimately taking a meeting and playing for (Knicks head coach David Fizdale) and a great young core that they have here. Thinking about playing with (Kristaps Porzingis). That was a big thing before I made my decision just to … plan on re-signing back with Boston. But yeah of course New York was a strong consideration.”

Irving, 26, said last month that plans to re-sign with the Celtics. He has a player option for 2019-20, the final season of his five-year, $94 million contract.

“I think if you were in my position, I think it would be an easy decision,” Irving said of his decision to commit to the Celtics. “Thinking about who we have (in Boston) and the future and what we’re set up for. For me, it was where I am in age and how I envision my career going. And kind of the lineage of guys that have come before me in the Boston Celtics is something I wanted to be a part of. Obviously, my dad and my mom met in Boston, so I had a lot of history there, as well. Obviously, being from New Jersey, (there’s) history there. But Boston, there’s nothing like it.”

Irving was one of the players in the 2019 free-agent class whom the Knicks had strong interest in, per league sources. With Irving presumably off the market, New York still plans to pursue a top free agent this summer — a class that includes Golden State forward Kevin Durant, Toronto Raptors forward Kawhi Leonard and Minnesota Timberwolves guard/forward Jimmy Butler.

New York currently projects to have $31 million in room, nearly enough money to afford a max free agent.

The projected max contract next season for a player with seven to nine years of service is $32.7 million. The projected max contract for a player with 10-plus years of service is $38.15 million.

So the Knicks will need to complete at least one more transaction that reduces their 2019-20 salary commitments to sign a free agent to a max contract.

Sterling Brown Jersey

A Milwaukee officer involved in the stun gun arrest of Bucks player Sterling Brown has been fired because of social media posts mocking the incident, the city’s police chief said Thursday.

Police Chief Alfonso Morales said the firing decision was not tied to anything Erik Andrade did when Brown was arrested, but he explained that the social media posts compromised the officer’s ability to testify in other cases. Morales spoke about the case at a Marquette University event.

Brown sued the police department in June and accused officers of using excessive force and targeting him because he’s black. A group of officers swarmed on him at a Walgreens parking lot because he didn’t immediately remove his hands from his pockets. Brown was standing with the officers waiting for a citation for parking in a disabled spot early on Jan. 26, but never he appeared to threaten police before or during his arrest, according to police body camera videos.

Andrade later mocked Brown on Facebook for his arrest .

“Nice meeting Sterling Brown of the Milwaukee Bucks at work this morning! Lol[hash]FearTheDeer,” one Facebook post read, referencing a slogan used to cheer on the Bucks at games. Andrade also posted a racist meme of Golden State Warriors star Kevin Durant.

Morales said in a statement that Andrade’s posts violate the department’s social media policies.

“They have a racist connotation and are derogatory, mocking an individual who was recently the subject of officers’ use of force,” Morales said. “Such comments also directly affect his credibility and ability to testify in future hearings as a member of this Department. I have not, and will not, tolerate such behavior.”

Andrade was at the scene when Brown was arrested but was not among the officers who took him down, according to police. A total of 11 officers involved in the arrest were disciplined or retrained, but Andrade was not among those punished at the time.

The president of the Milwaukee Police Association, Mike Crivello, did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment on behalf of Andrade. Andrade does not have a listed phone number.

Morales apologized to Brown for his officers’ actions and the Bucks’ second-year guard was never charged with anything.

Quincy Pondexter Jersey

The San Antonio Spurs have reached an agreement on a one-year deal with free-agent wing Quincy Pondexter, league sources told ESPN.

After multiple surgical procedures on his left knee and contracting the skin infection MRSA, sources said Pondexter is finally fully healthy.

The news comes on the same day that longtime Spurs guard Manu Ginobili announced his retirement.

Pondexter, 30, played in 23 games for the Chicago Bulls during the 2017-18 season before being waived.

When healthy, the 6-foot-7 swingman was one of the league’s conventional 3-and-D players.

He was the 26th pick in the 2010 NBA draft.

He will have an opportunity to compete for rotational minutes and also serve as a veteran leader for the Spurs’ young core.

Pondexter has averaged 5.0 points and 2.0 rebounds per game for his career.