Friday, July 20, 2007

Steve Francis Returns to Houston

Steve Francis (1998-99) signed with the Houston Rockets yesterday, getting $6 million for 2 years. Over the past week, Francis has been rumored to be shopping around between Houston, the Los Angeles Clippers, the Miami Heat, and the Dallas Mavericks. From ESPN:
The 30-year-old Francis was recently bought out of the remaining two years, $34 million of his previous contract by the Portland Trail Blazers. He received nearly $31 million in the deal.

With money being no factor, Francis chose the Rockets over Miami, Dallas and the Clippers. The Heat are believed to have offered him more money.

According to a person close to Francis, he chose Houston largely because of his familiarity with the organization and the city. He has kept a home there since joining the club in 1999, and it was the site of his best years in the NBA.

As a high-flying point guard for the Rockets, Francis made three All-Star games and was regarded as one of the top players in the league.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Joe Smith Signs with the Chicago Bulls

Joe Smith (1993-95), who started last season with the Denver Nuggets, then was traded mid-season to the Philadelphia 76ers, and then became a free agent this summer, signed a new contract with the Chicago Bulls. In the linked Chicago Sun-Times story, he says:
"Doing my interviews in front of the trophies, that was the closest I've seen one up close. It would definitely be nice to touch one," said Smith, who in 12 NBA seasons has yet to advance past the first round of the playoffs. "That would be really nice to be part of a team that not only made the playoff push, but continued to advance.

"Seeing all the pictures, just seeing [Michael] Jordan soaring ... Scottie [Pippen] ... Toni Kukoc, who I played with in Milwaukee for a couple years. The history here is great. It would be nice to add something to it. That's the goal of our team now."

The new contract is 2 years, $10 million.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Steve Blake Goes Back to Portland

Steve Blake (1999-2003), who was a free agent this summer, has signed a new 3 year deal with the Portland Trailblazers. Blake played for Portland in 2005-06 before being traded to Milwaukee last summer, and then traded again to Denver mid-season.
Personal ties helped lure Blake back to Portland. He lives in West Linn during the offseason and has a strong connection with Blazers general manager Kevin Pritchard. Blake was the first player Pritchard signed when he became the Blazers' director of player personnel, luring him to Portland from the Washington Wizards with a free agent contract.

Pritchard has long rued the day when Blake was traded last summer to Milwaukee with Brian Skinner and Ha Seung Jin for center Jamaal Magloire.

When the free agent market opened July 1, Pritchard identified Blake as a target for the Blazers, who were looking for more experience at the point guard position, which was occupied last season primarily by youngsters Jarrett Jack (in his second year last season) and Sergio Rodriguez (a rookie last season). has a good analysis article about the off-season moves and the point guard situation in Portland. They think it looks like Blake should be the new starter this season.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Mike Jones playing for NJ Nets in Orlando Summer League

Most of the off-season NBA attention has been centered on the Vegas Summer League, but six teams are also playing in the smaller Orlando Summer League, including the New Jersey Nets, who added Mike Jones (2003-07) as a late addition to their roster:
Matt Walsh, the Nets' final cut last season, was on the original roster but withdrew and the Nets replaced him with forward Mike Jones out of Maryland.

Ekene Ibekwe (2003-07) was invited to try-out for the Miami Heat's summer league team, but he was released just before league play began. Here is a link to all of the Orlando Summer League rosters.

On a completely unrelated note, this is blog post #100. Hooray for arbitrary, big round number milestones!

Friday, July 06, 2007

Terps on 2007 NBA Summer League Rosters

The NBA's Vegas Summer League starts play tonight, and several former Terps are on rosters:

Lots of people have been coming to this site this week looking for info on Mike Jones and Ekene Ibekwe, but they did not get picked for any team's summmer league roster.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Suns Introduce Strawberry

The Phoenix Suns introduced D.J. Strawberry (2003-07) to their fans over the weekend, and ran this story on their website about how D.J. overcame adversity to improve his game:
Now comes the challenge of gearing up for Suns Head Coach Mike D’Antoni’s system, one Strawberry knows will translate into some changes in his game, including working on a consistent jumper.

“It’s going to be different,” the guard told before Thursday's press conference. “In Maryland, we got to run only when we had a lay-up. Here, we’ll be running all the time. I like a fast-paced, up-tempo game. That suits me best, and I’m happy to be here and be a part of this organization.

“I’m working on extending my range on the jump shot, but my defense is my strength – that and bringing energy to the floor and playing at a high level in transition.”

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Lonny Baxter's Italian Championship and Videos

Over in Italy, Lonny Baxter had a great season with Montepaschi Siena, which won the 2007 Italian League Championship.

It's been a while since I've searched for YouTube videos of former Terps playing overseas. Today, I found some Lonny Baxter videos. In this video, former North Carolina foe Joseph Forte feeds Lonny for the Ali Oop dunk:

Baxter and Forte demonstrate the pick-and-roll:

And finally, Lonny shows that he can still block shots:

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Terrence Morris Signs with Maccabi Tel Aviv

Earlier this month, Terrence Morris (1997-2001) signed with Maccabi Tel Aviv in Israel. Local paper Haaretz says Tel Aviv offered him double what his old team, Hapoel Jerusalem, was paying him:
Maccabi landed Morris after offering him double the sum that his team of the last six months, Hapoel Jerusalem, had been willing to pay.

Morris joined Hapoel in mid-season and emerged as a major part of the team's rotation, averaging 13 points, 7 rebounds and 2 blocks as the team came out of a slump to win the State Cup and make it to the playoff finals.

There are a few shots of Terrence dunking and blocking shots towards the end of this video introducing the new 2007-08 Maccabi Tel Aviv line-up (he shows up around the 1:25 mark if you want to skip straight there):