Gooden Inked for Three Year-Term

Free agent forward Drew Gooden agreed to terms on a three-year, $23 million contract to re-sign with the Cleveland Cavaliers, agent Bill Duffy said Monday.  Gooden, the team’s top rebounder last season, has been a solid complementary player to All-Star forward LeBron James, who committed to a three-year contract extension with the Cavaliers in July.

Duffy said fellow agent Calvin Andrews handled the bulk of the negotiations with Cavaliers general manager Danny Ferry.   “We’re ecstatic,” Duffy said. “Drew is very happy. He likes where Cleveland is headed.”

Donyell Marshall To Play In Calhoun’s Charity Game

Just after Cliff Robinson stood out in the Field House, before Ray Allen lit up Gampel Pavilion, before Richard Hamilton helped deliver UConn’s first national title, there was Donyell Marshall, the first prize recruit of the Jim Calhoun era whose national stature speeded the program’s ascension.
“A lot of people don’t know, except my mom, that after my sophomore season I almost transferred,” said Marshall, now with the Cleveland Cavaliers and about to enter his 13th NBA season. “I wanted to. I couldn’t take it anymore. But we decided it was best probably to stick it out. He gets on you so hard, but it’s because he wants you to be better. When you leave and come back, you understand it.”

Marshall returned last night to take part in the Jim Calhoun Charity All-Star Basketball Game at Mohegan Sun Arena. As of Friday morning, about 1,800 tickets remained, according to Calhoun. The game, first played in 1999, and surrounding weekend festivities have raised more than $1.75 million for the Jim and Pat Calhoun Cardiology Research Endowment Fund at the UConn Health Center. It also brings together many of the best players from Calhoun’s 20 years, a collection of basketball success stories perhaps impossible if not for Marshall sticking it out.


Coach Mark Price

Peter Kogoy of the Australian News reports that Mark Price is planning an aggressive approach in his role as coach of new club South Dragons.

“While Price’s coaching resume is limited to college and high school, the 40-year-old American brings impeccable playing credentials to the new Melbourne team.

A four-time NBA All-Star with Cleveland Cavaliers, Price had his first look at the Dragons yesterday, less than 24 hours after arriving.  He was suitably impressed. “I’m excited about the team’s prospects,” Price said. “My aim is to make this team competitive from game one.”

Price is convinced he has not set the bar too high.

Selected by Dallas Mavericks in the 1986 NBA draft, Price was traded to the Cleveland Cavaliers, and spent nine seasons there “banging heads” against the likes of Michael Jordan in Chicago and Larry Bird of the Boston Celtics.

Price enjoyed further success with Washington and Golden State before ending his playing days with Orlando Magic in 1998.

“Jordan was an unbelievable opponent. He took basketball to another level,” Price said.

“Not only did he come ready to play every night, his will to win was something else.”

Price is relishing the chance to work with one of Australia’s best players, Shane Heal.

“As a rookie coach having Shane Heal here, fit and playing well, is a big piece to the puzzle,” he said. “Our paths crossed in the NBA and I know what it means having Shane Heal in a Dragons uniform, he brings respect to this club.

“But I’m just as excited about the rest of the Australian content, with the likes of Jacob Holmes and Frank Drmic, while Joe Ingles is an exciting prospect.”

Used to success as a player with Cleveland and as an assistant college coach with Georgia Tech, Price is demanding the same with the Dragons.

“The goal of any club is to get to the finals,” Price said.

“That being said, it’s going to take a lot of hard work and a lot of breaks along the way to make that happen.

“My goal is for us to be a team that, in December, January and February, is playing on all cylinders. Getting to that stage is going to take a lot of work.”

But for now, Price’s plan is to ease Heal, 36, through the pre-season.

Heal is battling a groin strain after coming out of a two-year retirement.

Price believes imports Todd Fuller, who towers over 200cm and played alongside Price at Golden State for a season, and German-born swingman Christian Anderson will complement a a solid core of Australians.

The Dragons’ first pre-season match under Price will be against Cairns Taipans at Knox Stadium in Melbourne on August 23 before tackling the pre-season tournament at Coffs Harbour.”

Lebron James serious side

The people’s daily online sees a different side of LBJ.  As LeBron James walked onto the court to thunderous cheers before Team USA’s match with China’s national team on Monday, he clapped his hands twice before saluting all of his team-mates.

It was a relatively understated gesture for the NBA superstar, with fans more used to flamboyant air chest-clashes with team-mates and the chanting of Jay-Z lyrics before he turns out for the Cleveland Cavaliers.

But with a determination to restore US basketball to its former standing in the upcoming World Championships in Japan, the 22-year-old is showing a different side.

“It’s not only a salute to my team-mates, it’s also for the whole team and my country,” said James. “I salute to show my respect to the country. It’s about my commitment and determination.

“The goal in the Worlds is clear – the champions.”

Unlike other NBA superstars Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant, who won the gold medal when they first turned out for the national team in the Olympic Games, James has had a more disappointing experience, with the US team settling for bronze in 2004 in Athens, ending the dominance it had enjoyed since Barcelona in 1992.

Though he left Athens frustrated, the promising teenager came back to NBA stronger, anchoring Cavaliers to the play-offs last season.

“We’re not thinking about what happened in 2004. It’s a different time, a different team for us, a different coaching staff. We are just going out and preparing ourselves the best way to win every game,” he said.

“We have a totally different mindset this time and the atmosphere is great. You want to leave here and have great things to say about your experience, rather than some of the negative things we had in 2004. Now, we want the chance to start over again.”

Realizing it could no longer just throw together players and expect to win international competitions, the national team has enjoyed a series of teambuilding activities since March, including a visit to Nellis air force base in Las Vegas at the start of this month.

“It doesn’t matter how good of a basketball player you are individually, to become a team you need more devotion,” said James.

“It’s quite different to compete for my country, we need to play as a whole. Now, the chemistry is great and it’s only going to get better.”

James looks a different player to the one that played in Athens. He strives for balls on the floor and exhibits a relentless defense, and also got the game-highs 20 and 22 points in two matches with Puerto Rico and China, a sharp contrast with his time in Athens where he averaged a miserable 4.8 points per game.

After making seven-of-eight from the field against China on Monday, James said he wants to be the leader of the Dream Team.

“I don’t look at myself as a hero, but I want to be a leader of the team, or just one of the leaders,” he said. “It’s a long-term target for me, not only in one or two matches.”

Head coach Mike Krzyzewski said he was pleased with what James brought to the team.

“I know he isn’t conditioned to play this way in the NBA,” he said. “The style he wants to play is up in his chest every possession. The boy kind of understands this game a little better now, and he can help these young guys understand what this game is all about.”

In yesterday’s match against Brazil in Guangzhou, LeBron scored 11, including a decisive 2-point shot with one minute to go, inspiring USA to come from behind and beat Brazil 90-86.

Brazil led 82-81 with three minutes left, before USA made a 8-0 spurt in the last two minutes.

The South Americans managed to chase by only one point but LeBron’s score subdued Brazil’s last-gasp rally.

USA Victory over China

Cleveland Cavaliers’ star LeBron James scored 23 points and Carmelo Anthony added 18 to lead the United States to a 119-to-73 win over China.  In today’s game in Guangzhou, China, the Americans led by 23 at halftime and by 40 after three quarters. James thrilled the capacity crowd in the southern Chinese city with several dunks on the fast break, and he declared the U-S squad “one of the best teams.” 

The U.S. are preparing for the world championships in Japan starting August 19th. The Americans play Brazil in Guangzhou tomorrow before flying on to South Korea.

Ronnie Duncan is Out

More changes are being made involving the Cleveland Cavaliers in game presentation. 

A week after the Cavs showed Michael Reghi the door with two years left on his contract, owner Dan Gilbert is now changing his public address announcer, reported 5 On Your Side sports director Chris Miller. 

Ronnie Duncan lasted just one year amid a firestorm of complaints for his colorful style. Duncan said Monday that his contributions weren’t truly appreciated by the team, but he holds no ill feelings. 

A statement released by the Cavs said, “The Cleveland Cavaliers will not be extending Ronnie Duncan’s contract as our in-game public address announcer for the 2006-2007 season. Our agreement with Mr. Duncan was a one-year contract, which expired at the conclusion of the past season. The Cavaliers will launch a search immediately to hire a new announcer.”

The Three Amigos

SI.COM tells us how the Three Amigos, Lebron, Melo, and Duane are making the most of their playing together for Team USA.

“It’s been nearly 20 minutes since the USA basketball team finished its morning practice session at the Thomas & Mack Center, but none of the players have left the court. In fact, they’re all still taking shots — at the baskets and at each other.

“Can you believe the Grizzlies have never won a playoff game?” asked LeBron James as he was shooting around with Carmelo Anthony, Dwyane Wade and Chris Paul. “Swept out the past three years.”

“Yeah, you’re making summer plans as soon as the playoffs start,” said Wade, smiling as he looked at Shane Battier. “It’s vacation time.”