NBA news and Notes May - 26

NBA news and Notes May - 26

NBA Today - May 26
Sat, May 26, 2007
By Associated Press

SCOREBOARD

Saturday, May 26

San Antonio at Utah (8:30 p.m. EDT). The Jazz are 6-0 in the playoffs at home and are looking for their first win against the Spurs after losing the first two games at San Antonio in the Western Conference Finals.

STAYING IN

Georgia Tech guard Javaris Crittenton will turn pro after one season with the Yellow Jackets. Crittenton averaged 14.4 points per game and ranked second in the ACC with an average of 5.8 assists.

HIRED

Sam Vincent was hired as the new coach of the Charlotte Bobcats on Friday. The 44-year-old Vincent played seven years in the NBA, and worked under Avery Johnson in Dallas this season.

MOVING UP

Bernie Bickerstaff accepted a new role with the Charlotte Bobcats on Friday. Bickerstaff, the team's coach and GM since its inception three years ago, will become an executive vice president.

SPEAKING

''I absolutely, positively anticipate this team making the playoffs, and I would be incredibly discouraged and disappointed if we don't.'' - Sam Vincent after he was hired as Charlotte coach Friday.

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As promised, Lewis voids Sonics contract, will become free agent
Sat, May 26, 2007
By Associated Press

SEATTLE -- Rashard Lewis' promise became reality.

Lewis' agent said Friday night that the SuperSonics' longest-tenured player and second-leading scorer had officially opted out of the final two years of his Seattle contract. That makes him eligible for free agency beginning on July 1, but doesn't necessarily end his career with the Sonics.

''It gives him options. And this is what free agency is for,'' agent Tony Dutt said in Houston, after officially informing the Sonics in writing what Lewis had promised before the end of the just-completed season.

The Sonics have one advantage over the rest of the NBA with Lewis now in free agency: They are the only team who can offer him a six-year contract.

''It was in his contract that he could become a free agent. And you can't blame him for wanting to see what's out there,'' Sonics president of basketball operations Lenny Wilkens said last month. ''But that won't stop us from trying to get it done.''

When asked if he has been negotiating with the Sonics, despite Seattle not having a general manager or a coach right now, Dutt said, ''We've been in contact (with Wilkens). We'll probably stay in contact on and off until July 1.''

Lewis, who turns 28 in August, left $21 million behind in his Sonics contract. He is considered to be one of the NBA's most attractive free agent this summer. The market will include Chauncey Billups, Gerald Wallace and possibly Vince Carter - if Carter does what Lewis did and opts of out his contract with the New Jersey Nets.

''I'm excited about where I stand in the NBA,'' Lewis said last month, immediately after his ninth season in Seattle ended in a 31-51 mess.

Lewis could get offers of five years for perhaps $15 million per year, after averaging 22.4 points last season despite a hand injury that caused him to miss 22 games. Yet he said he will give Seattle first opportunity to give him a sweet deal.

''Oh, yeah. I've been here since the team drafted me (in 1998). They have faith in me,'' Lewis said last month.

''My heart will always be here - even if I play somewhere else.''

The 2005 All-Star returned from his six-week absence last season to lead the team while All-Star shooter Ray Allen was injured.

''He's earned that right to be at the top of the market,'' Dutt said. ''I think teams will move pretty quickly to sign him (after July 1). He is about the top free agent out there.''

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Re: NBA news and Notes May - 26

All indications are the Blazers will pursue Rashard Lewis, an unrestricted free agent with close ties to coach Nate McMillan.

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