Saturday, July 14, 2012

NBA Capsules: Mavs win bid to get F Brand, let go by 76ers

Elton Brand thought he was going in for a harmless offseason workout at the Philadelphia 76ers' practice facility. Instead, he got his walking papers.
Summoned to a meeting by team president Rod Thorn, Brand learned earlier this month the Sixers would use their one-time amnesty provision in the new CBA to let him go. The move means the $18.1 million Brand is owed in the final season of his five-year deal will not count against the salary cap for Philadelphia.
The two-time All-Star forward wouldn't stay unemployed for long.
The Dallas Mavericks won the bidding Friday to obtain Brand off waivers, the latest in a series of moves to build their roster after a frustrating start in free agency.
"I'm pretty happy with it," Brand said by phone Friday night. "I think it can be good for me."
Dallas also completed a one-year deal with 7-foot center Chris Kaman, who tweeted Wednesday that he had reached an agreement with the Mavericks.
The Sixers also continued to overhaul their roster when they agreed to a $6 million, two-year contract with former No. 1 overall draft pick Kwame Brown.
A year after winning their first NBA title, the Mavericks couldn't persuade Deron Williams to come play for his hometown team. Williams stayed with the Nets for their move to Brooklyn and signed his new deal early Wednesday, the first day new deals could be finalized.
Plus, guards Jason Kidd and Jason Terry are leaving Dallas in free agency.
The Mavs acquired point guard Darren Collison and wing player Dahntay Jones from Indiana in a trade Thursday for center Ian Mahinmi.
Brand will still get the full $18.1 million he is owed, with Philadelphia paying any difference. Any team under the salary cap was eligible to bid for the 6-foot-9 forward.
The winning bid wasn't revealed by the Mavericks. ESPN, citing anonymous sources, reported it was $2.1 million.
Brand was happy to land in Dallas, he just wished he had more control of his future.
"Yeah, that was real tough," he said. "I didn't have too many gripes with the CBA or the lockout but that's one gripe, just that you don't have a choice. You play years and years and don't have a choice. But to not have a choice, and still end up in Dallas, it turned out great."
Brand was the top overall pick out of Duke in the 1999 draft by Chicago and has played 860 career games with the Bulls, Los Angeles Clippers and Philadelphia. He was an All-Star in 2002 and 2006.
His career averages are 18.3 points and 9.4 rebounds while shooting 50 percent from the field. Last season, he averaged 11.0 points and 7.2 rebounds in 60 games with the 76ers.
Kaman averaged 13.1 points and 7.7 rebounds in 47 games with the New Orleans Hornets last season. He played the first eight seasons of his career with the Los Angeles Clippers, and has averaged 11.9 points and 8.3 rebounds in 540 career games.
Kaman was on the German national team during the 2008 Olympics and was a teammate of Dirk Nowitzki.
Brand isn't willing to concede a starting spot but is willing to play off the bench.
"It depends on training camp and what Chris Kaman is ready to do," Brand said. "He's a true center. I've played center a lot. But he's a true center. Whatever is needed to win ballgames and the minutes are there, it won't be too tough."
Brand said he had a productive talk with coach Rick Carlisle.
Dallas this week designated 7-foot center Brendan Haywood as its amnesty player. Haywood is set to make $8.2 million next season and is due $27 million over the final three guaranteed years in his deal.
Brand was a two-time All-Star when he spurned better offers and signed the free-agent contract with Philadelphia. While Brand was the locker-room leader and heart of the Sixers, his production never merited the deal he signed as one of the hottest free agents available.
He played only 29 games in an injury-filled first season with Philadelphia and never meshed with former coach Eddie Jordan in his second. Under Doug Collins, Brand found his niche, and led the Sixers in scoring with 15.0 points a game in 2010-11.
"We just didn't get it done," Brand said. "I'm a realist. If we had got it done, I'd have still been there, absolutely. No hard feelings at all. I'll still root for the organization. I had a great time. The fans were great. We started changing the culture. It was good."
Brand may not become a legitimate 20-10 threat at power forward again like his years with Chicago and the Clippers, but he was as steady and durable as any Sixer over the past two seasons. Brand said he "would have loved to have come back," but understood why the Sixers made the change. They chose not to re-sign guards Lou Williams and Jodie Meeks, and believed their Eastern Conference semifinals loss to Boston was as far as that roster could go.
"I felt like we had to get better. Something had to get done," he said. "We were kind of bringing the same guys back and other teams were getting better. ... I didn't think we were improving too much."
AP source: Lin signs offer sheet with Rockets
HOUSTON (AP) — The Houston Rockets had Jeremy Lin in training camp last December. Now they want him back.
Lin has signed an offer sheet with Houston, according to a person with direct knowledge of the move. The person spoke to The Associated Press on Friday night on condition of anonymity because the agreement with the New York Knicks' restricted free agent point guard wasn't announced.
Another person familiar with the negotiations said it is a three-year deal worth about $25 million. The person, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the terms hadn't been announced, said the third year is worth about $15 million.
New York has three days to match Houston's offer, and coach Mike Woodson said this week that Lin would "absolutely" return. The Knicks signed 39-year-old Jason Kidd in free agency, and Kidd said he is looking forward to mentoring Lin, whom Woodson said will be the starter entering training camp.
The 6-foot-3 Lin was briefly in Rockets training camp before the season began. Houston waived him because the Rockets already had Kyle Lowry and Goran Dragic on their roster.
The Knicks claimed Lin off waivers, and he became an overnight sensation during a remarkable run in February. He averaged 14.6 points and 6.2 assists in 35 games before his season ended because of torn cartilage in his left knee.
Earlier Friday, the Rockets waived Luis Scola via the amnesty clause. The one-time use of amnesty allows Scola to leave without his remaining contract counting against the team's salary cap or luxury tax. Scola is due to make about $21 million over the next three seasons.
A fan favorite in Houston, the 6-foot-9 Scola averaged 14.5 points and 7.7 rebounds in five seasons with the Rockets. Scola grabbed 2,984 rebounds with the Rockets to rank ninth on the team's career list.
The Rockets have torn apart last season's roster as they try for a deal that would pry All-Star center Dwight Howard away from the Orlando Magic. Cutting Scola allows Houston to absorb multiple undesirable contracts from Orlando in a potential deal.
Houston has been the most active team in the offseason, collecting assets and draft picks to build a package enticing enough to convince the Magic to trade Howard, a six-time All-Star and three-time defensive player of the year. The Rockets have needed a dependable big man since former top overall pick Yao Ming started getting leg and foot injuries that eventually led to his retirement last summer.
Rockets general manager Daryl Morey has also spent years trying to land a top-tier superstar who he envisions as the cornerstone of a championship-caliber team. The Rockets were close to getting Pau Gasol before last season in a proposed deal that also would have sent All-Star guard Chris Paul to the Lakers. But NBA Commissioner David Stern, acting on behalf of the league-owned New Orleans Hornets, vetoed the deal that would have brought Lamar Odom to the Hornets, along with Scola, Kevin Martin, Dragic and a first-round pick.
On Tuesday, the Rockets completed a trade of Lowry to Toronto for a lottery-protected, first-round pick and a sign-and-trade deal that sent Marcus Camby to New York for two future second-round picks and three other players.
Before the draft, Houston traded forward Chase Budinger and center Samuel Dalembert in separate deals that netted two first-round picks. The Rockets were reportedly shopping the picks to move up in the draft, but eventually stayed put and used their three first-round draft picks on Connecticut guard Jeremy Lamb, Iowa State forward Royce White, and Kentucky forward Terrence Jones.
Houston also is expected to sign Bulls center Omer Asik to an offer sheet. Earlier in free agency, Asik agreed to a three-year, $25 million offer.
The Rockets turned back to Lin after the unrestricted free agent Dragic signed a four-year, $30 million deal with Phoenix.
The 7-foot Asik was playing professionally in Turkey when he was picked by Portland in the second round of the 2008 draft and immediately traded to Chicago in a three-team deal. He played in 66 games last season, but only averaged 3.1 points, 5.3 rebounds and one block per game. Asik helped Turkey earn the silver medal at the 2010 FIBA world championship.
-- Chris Duncan
Spurs re-sign guard Mills
SAN ANTONIO (AP) — The San Antonio Spurs have re-signed guard Patty Mills. The Spurs announced the move Friday without disclosing terms.
The 6-foot Australian was signed by the Spurs on March 27. He played in 16 games, three of them starts, and averaged 10.3 points, 2.4 assists and 1.8 rebounds in 16.3 minutes.
He set career-highs for points and assists in his final two games of the regular season. On April 25, he got a career-best 27 points at Phoenix and then surpassed that the following night in Golden State by scoring 34 points and getting a career-high 12 assists.
Mills spent part of last season playing in Australia and China. He was originally drafted by the Portland Trail Blazers in 2009. He's a member of Australia's Olympic team.
Other NBA News
Kidd-Gilchrist at peace with speech disorder
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Michael Kidd-Gilchrist continues to work hard off the basketball court so he'll be able to confidently talk about his success on it.
It hasn't been easy for the teenager. The No. 2 pick in the NBA draft by the Charlotte Bobcats has battled a speech disorder since he was a toddler.
But the guarded young man said in an interview with The Associated Press that he is no longer embarrassed by his stuttering.
Kidd-Gilchrist's off-court self-confidence has grown over the last 12 months since being thrust into the national spotlight. That's what happens when you chose to play college basketball at the University of Kentucky, win a national championship and become the second pick in the NBA draft.
"It's a part of me. It's who I am." Kidd-Gilchrist said of his stuttering.
While he's far from a finished product when it comes to speaking to the media, Kidd-Gilchrist said without ever-present support of his mother Cindy Richardson — whom he considers his best friend, the confidence he gained working with Kentucky's media relations department last season and the help of a speech pathologist he might not be where he is today.
His mother concedes "Michael doesn't do media well," but she's confident he'll improve as he matures — just as he's done on the court.
"You have to remember Michael doesn't turn 19 until September," Richardson said. "He's always been a very private person. Our entire family is private. We don't make it a habit to share information with outsiders. And when Michael is just Mike, when he's away from cameras and the media, he doesn't have the (stuttering) issue."
For now, Kidd-Gilchrist finds himself in a tough situation. And he's OK with that. By virtue of being drafted so high, he'll be viewed as the face of the Bobcats franchise and will be the player everyone looks to for answers.
"I've learned you just have to take your time, say what you want to say," Kidd-Gilchrist said.
He has certainly dealt with bigger obstacles in his life. A month before his third birthday his father, Michael Gilchrist, was shot to death leaving a void in the young boy's life.
He grew closer to his uncle, Darrin Kidd, as an adolescent. But he too was taken early, dying of a heart attack the same day Kidd-Gilchrist signed a letter of intent to play at Kentucky. Michael took his uncle's surname as part of his own to honor him.
Despite the trauma of Gilchrist's sudden death, Richardson, who has since remarried, doesn't believe that's what caused her son's stuttering problem.
"I think it's genetic," she said. "He stuttered when he was young. He's stuttered all his life, actually."
There was a time when Kid-Gilchrist was embarrassed by it.
While at St. Patrick's High School in Elizabeth, N.J., Kidd-Gilchrist was a nationally-ranked player working alongside current NBA star Kyrie Irving. But while his confidence on the court was reaching new heights his stuttering remained an issue behind the scenes.
"It was something that as he got older he tried to hide," Richardson said.
That's not unusual, according to Louise Raleigh, a speech pathologist at UNC Greensboro.
"Stuttering is normally the tip of the iceberg when it comes to other issues," Raleigh said. "There is also a lot of anxiety that comes when trying to hide stuttering. It's tough for those of us who don't stutter to truly understand the anxiety involved, particularly when it comes to public speaking."
That's one of the reasons Richardson shielded her son tightly from the media, not allowing him to do face-to-face interviews in high school.  Richardson said the interviews he did do were from questions submitted by reporters ahead of time.
"I didn't want him to be blindsided, so everything came through me," she said.
But when Kidd-Gilchrist signed a letter of intent to attend Kentucky things were about to change. It was time for him to start talking.
John Hayden, the associate director of media relations at Kentucky, said it was initially determined that Kidd-Gilchrist wasn't quite ready to do interviews and held him our briefly for additional training on how to deal with the media.
In one-on-one mock interviews he was taught basic communication skills: Sit up straight. Use his hands. Look the interviewer in the eye. Sit on the edge of your chair, engaged in the conversation.
"I wouldn't say he was scared, but he was uncomfortable with it at first," Hayden said. "Michael didn't lack self-confidence he just lacked a confidence when it came to interviews."
Prior to the team's preseason media day, Kidd-Gilchrist approached Hayden and said he ready to participate in the event.
Any trepidation over that decision quickly ended when at the start of the session Kidd-Gilchrist hopped into an old director's chair that had been set out for players fell through it when the material underneath completely ripped.
The 6-foot-7 freshman found himself on the floor. There were laughs that followed, mostly coming from Kidd-Gilchrist — it seemed to break the ice.
"He did really well that day," Hayden said. "Mike is such a great, great kid. He's one of the most down-to-earth, nicest kids you'll ever want to meet. And he has interesting things to say. Sometimes it just takes a little longer to get there so you have to be patient."
Hayden said by the end of the Kentucky's national championship season Kidd-Gilchrist had done as many interviews as any player on the team.
He was warmly received by fans, even after his speech disorder was made public.
"When it came out in the media it was a relief at how people embraced it," Richardson said.
Despite the strides Kidd-Gilchrist has made, he still doesn't always appear comfortable with the cameras on him and the tape recorders thrust in his face.
At his introductory press conference with the Bobcats last month there were some rough moments when dead air filled the room as he struggled for the right words to respond to questions. Some questions he simply left unanswered after long, awkward pauses. Others he answered just fine.
"Part of it is the speech and part of it is he just does not like" doing interviews, Richardson said. "I think a lot of it is because growing up we never allowed him to do it."
Richardson accepts her son's stuttering will never completely go away.
"But he's come to grips with it," she said. "So now he's at the point where he'll say, 'Mom, I love who I am.' And he should ... Michael is the most wonderful, caring person you'll ever meet. He hasn't let this disability shape the person he is. I'm proud of him for that. He's a very confident young man."
The Bobcats picked up on Kidd-Gilchrist's quiet confidence during pre-draft meetings.
"He's a high character person," Bobcats general manager Rich Cho said. "Out of the 17 years I've been in the NBA and all of the draft interviews I've been involved with, his was definitely in the top five."
The Bobcats are confident in his ability on the court, too. Owner Michael Jordan this week compared Kidd-Gilchrist to a younger version of former teammate Scottie Pippen.
"He's going to be fine in the NBA," Jordan said.
Kidd-Gilchrist isn't afraid of the challenges ahead of him — on or off the court.
He knows he'll be counted on as a cornerstone of a rebuilding franchise and is quite aware of the obligations that come with that.
"I hope that I can become a role model for kids" with speech disorders, Kidd-Gilchrist said. "That's my goal. ...  You just have to take your time. You'll find the words."
-- Steve Reed
King says Nets a playoff team, but still need more
NEW YORK (AP) — The Nets are no longer concerned about getting back to the playoffs after a five-year drought. The more pressing issue for Brooklyn's new team is getting a few more pieces so the franchise can challenge for the Eastern Conference title.
While it sounds optimistic, that's the mood of the Nets as they approach their first season in Brooklyn with a roster that includes an All-Star backcourt of Deron Williams and Joe Johnson, a veteran small forward in Gerald Wallace and a talented young center in Brook Lopez.
Having Dwight Howard at center, of course, would have catapulted the Nets from woeful to wonderful in a split second, but the much ballyhooed deal with Orlando fell apart earlier this week. Still, the Nets should be a lot better than their 22-44 mark in the lockout-shortened season.
"I really believe this is a playoff team," coach Avery Johnson said Friday after the Nets held a news conference in Brooklyn's Borough Hall to showcase Williams and Johnson. "Once we can become a playoff team and get into the playoffs, then anything can happen.
"It's all about size, athleticism and versatility. You saw it with the Miami Heat last year and you'll see it again this summer in the Olympics."
The Nets will be much more athletic with Williams, Johnson and Wallace, combined with a healthy Lopez, who missed most of last season with foot problems. Second-year guard MarShon Brooks fits right in, as well.
Where the Nets need help at is power forward. Reggie Evans was acquired from the Clippers earlier this month and general manager Billy King said the team is close to re-signing Kris Humphries, the team's leading rebounder last season.
Brooklyn also this week signed Mirza Teletovic, a 6-foot-9 free agent who can play both forward spots, to a three-year, $10 million contract.
Humphries is a free agent, as well, but the Nets own his Larry Bird-rights, so they can pay him anything they want. Charlotte also has interest. King said the Nets have had serious talks with veteran Jerry Stackhouse, also. The other pressing need would be a backup point guard, preferably a veteran.
King has made several big moves this offseason. The most notable is Williams, who signed a five-year, $98 million deal, and engineered a trade with the Hawks that brought Johnson to Brooklyn for five players and two draft picks. King also re-signed Wallace to a four-year, $40 million pact, and re-signed Lopez to a four-year, $60 million deal after the Howard trade fell through.
Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov didn't give King a green light to spend as much money as he wanted, but he didn't oppose any move that would make the team better. The transactions have pushed the Nets over the cap, and they will have to pay a luxury tax next season.
King said the Nets have a team — on paper — that can be in the playoffs.
"Now, the goal is to work together and see if we can be a team that ultimately can be in the top four (in the conference), so you can have home course in the first round of the playoffs," King said. "We'll see how quickly it comes together. The whole process — once we got Deron — was filling around him. We have people around him who are all natural fits."
Johnson and Williams were excited about the chance to play with each other, noting opponents can't concentrate too much on one.
"We have some great pieces here," said Johnson, a six-time All-Star who has averaged 17.8 points, 4.2 rebounds and 4.4 assists in his career. "Some pieces that can really get us over the hump, and be an NBA contender."
Williams, who averaged a career-best 21 points last season, said one of the big reasons he decided to stay with the Nets was because of all the moves the team made. He added that he has never played with someone of Johnson's caliber.
"This is a fresh start for us all," Williams said. "I am excited to see where this team can go."
When asked if the Nets were a playoff team, Williams didn't hesitate.
"No doubt," he said.
Time will tell.
-- Tom Canavan
Timberwolves waive Webster, trade Miller
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — The Minnesota Timberwolves have been engaged with the Trail Blazers for days in a back-and-forth dance to try and pry Nicolas Batum out of Portland.
And it's not quite over yet.
The Timberwolves traded center Brad Miller and two second-round picks to New Orleans and waived swingman Martell Webster on Friday, all in an effort to clear enough cap room to sign Batum to a four-year, $46.5 million offer sheet with incentives that could push the deal past $50 million.
Once Webster clears waivers at 5 p.m. Eastern on Sunday, the Wolves can submit the signed offer sheet to the league. The Blazers will have three days to match the offer for the restricted free agent or let him leave for Minnesota.
Portland GM Neil Olshey has been adamant that the Blazers will match any offer for the 23-year-old swingman and will not agree to a sign-and-trade deal to let him land in Minnesota. But Wolves president David Kahn said on Friday night that he remained hopeful they could work out a trade before Sunday to make it work. Absent a deal, Kahn said the Wolves would submit the offer to make the Blazers match it.
The Wolves reached an agreement on the deal with Batum last week and have been trying to work out a trade ever since.
"I take our commitment to him not only seriously, it's a matter of honor," Kahn said. "When you make a commitment you have to follow through."
Batum averaged 13.9 points and 4.6 rebounds in his fourth season with the Blazers, and the Wolves see him as the versatile, defensive-minded perimeter player they have been searching for over the past few seasons.
"He very much is kind of a missing piece," Kahn said. "We're very hopeful that we can have him. But we understand what restricted free agency is."
Portland does have all the leverage, but Batum told the Blazers last week that he wanted to play in Minnesota. His agent Bouna Ndiaye said that Batum feels more comfortable with Wolves coach Rick Adelman and badly wants to play in Minnesota.
The Wolves are doing everything they can to make that happen. They used the amnesty clause on Darko Milicic on Thursday, then waived Martell Webster on Friday and will only have $600,000 of his $5.7 million salary count against their cap.
Then they sent Miller and the two picks to New Orleans for a conditional second-round pick. Because of a buyout in Miller's contract, the Hornets essentially bought two second-round picks — the Brooklyn Nets' No. 2 in 2013 and Minnesota's in 2016 — for $848,000. Miller said at the end of the season he will retire, but is waiting to file paperwork until his buyout is completed.
"All I can say is that I enjoyed my time in Minnesota a real joy I had there," tweeted Webster, who was limited by back injuries in his two seasons in Minnesota. "Thank you so much for what you gave me Minneapolis."
Earlier this week, Olshey took a couple of shots at Kahn and the state of Minnesota when talking about a negotiation that has been dragging on despite Portland's insistence that it will end with Batum staying out West.
When asked why Batum likes Minnesota so much, Olshey said he must really like mosquitos and frostbite. But Kahn said his dealings with Olshey on the phone have been cordial.
"I don't have any issues with him," Kahn said. "We have absolutely no acrimony whatsoever toward the Trail Blazers. Absolutely none.
"This player happens to be on the Trail Blazers. And we really like this player ... He really wants to be here. There's absolutely nothing involved here beyond that."
The situation could continue to drag on until Wednesday before reaching a resolution, if the Blazers use the maximum allowable time to make a decision on the offer sheet. If they do match, that means the Wolves are risking losing out on other possible free agent wing players, including Houston's Courtney Lee and O.J. Mayo of Memphis. The Wolves have also reached out to Boston big man Greg Stiemsma and Lakers power forward Jordan Hill in addition to reaching agreements with guards Brandon Roy of Portland and Alexey Shved of Russia.
But Kahn did not seem concerned about the process hindering their ability to add other players. The Wolves simply feel that the possibility of adding Batum, however small that may be, is worth the wait.
"We think that we owe it to ourselves to take the shot," Kahn said. "If they choose to match it, it leaves us with a significant amount of room under the cap for us to pursue other players."
-- Jon Krawczynski
Williams takes trade rumors in stride
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Derrick Williams is getting a crash course in the business of the NBA in his first full summer as a professional.
In just over a year in the league, Williams went from the No. 2 overall draft pick and one of the preseason favorites for rookie of the year to trade bait after a first season he termed as "up and down."
The Timberwolves considered moving Williams earlier this summer while they were trying to add Lakers big man Pau Gasol. When that didn't work out, the Portland Trail Blazers inquired about him in the seemingly endless negotiations to bring Nicolas Batum to Minnesota, but the Wolves took his name off the table.
It's been a dizzying few weeks, and Williams seems to be taking it all in stride.
"All that stuff going on, it happens," Williams said on Friday after a workout in preparation for summer league play next week. "Everybody goes through it. Just trying to push through it and hopefully I'll stay here."
The Timberwolves drafted Williams in hopes of using him at both power forward and small forward. But the shortened training camp combined with an entirely new coaching staff in Minnesota led Rick Adelman to have Williams focus primarily on power forward, his more natural position, for his first season.
Playing behind All-Star Kevin Love, the minutes were sporadic for Williams, who averaged 8.8 points and 4.7 rebounds. The modest numbers were the result of Adelman's occasional frustration with the 20-year-old's inconsistent performances, and Williams knows that's an area that has to improve.
"I have to make shots when I'm open and get to the basket when I can," Williams said. "Just a little bit of everything. Staying ready, that's a big part of it, especially when I was out for periods of time and coming back into the game. Just being a little bit more ready and staying a little more focused."
With Love entrenched as the starting power forward, Williams has worked hard this summer to reshape his body and prepare for bigger minutes at small forward. Through a combination of diet, exercise and yoga, a slim and trim Williams reported to Minnesota on Friday at 233 pounds, 15 pounds less than he played at last season.
"He lost weight. He's not the chubby one anymore," forward Wes Johnson said. "He's leaned up. That's good for him. I think that weight suits him better."
The easy-going Williams laughed when told of Johnson's remark. He took some ribbing from teammates last season for his physique and is working with Love's trainer to reduce his body fat and add more lean muscle.
"I've always been the chubby one since I got here," he said. "I've lost a little weight. I think I owed it to my teammates more than anybody, more than to myself. A lot of people looked up to me. They still do. They want me to come back this season and be ready."
After being examined by the Timberwolves medical staff, Williams also had a procedure in the offseason to fix a deviated septum, which they hope will help him as well.
"I can actually breathe out of my nose now," Williams said. "Overall it's a lot better. I'm glad that it happened."
Williams expects to see a lot of time at small forward during summer league play in Las Vegas next week. Of course, if the Timberwolves are able to land Batum with a four-year, $46.5 million offer, things will again be complicated for him.
"He's a great player. I've seen him play even before I got to the NBA," Williams said. "It's really not about him or anything like that. It's just about me getting better. If I had played a little bit better last season maybe we wouldn't be having this talk right now. I just try to stay ready for this season, stay motivated and get my body in shape and I think that has a lot to do with it."
-- Jon Krawczynski
Pacers re-sign Hibbert, Hill
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — The Indiana Pacers have re-signed free agents Roy Hibbert and George Hill, two key members of their rebuilding project.
Indiana Pacers' incoming president Donnie Walsh had said he didn't want to disrupt the nucleus of a team that went 42-24 and reached the second round of the playoffs last season. On Friday, he announced that the Pacers have re-signed free agents Roy Hibbert and George Hill.
"Before the free agent period started, I met with the press and basically said the biggest priority we have is to keep our own guys, and we are here today to announce that George and Roy signed contracts to be with the Pacers for quite a while," Walsh said to a cheering crowd at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
Hibbert, a fourth-year pro, is coming off an All-Star season, averaging 12.8 points, 8.8 rebounds and 2.0 blocks per game and giving the Pacers a dominant presence at center.  He says he's happy to be back because the Pacers have "unfinished business" after losing to eventual champion Miami in the playoffs.
"I was pretty surprised I made the All-Star team," he said. "If it happens again, that's great, but I'm more focused on winning, rebounding, blocking shots and being a defensive presence."
Hill was drafted by San Antonio with the 24th overall pick in 2008 and spent his first three seasons with the Spurs. The guard joined Indiana in June 2011, and has career averages of 9.8 points, 2.5 rebounds and 2.5 assists per game.
The Pacers also said they have signed free agent guard D.J. Augustin, who averaged 10.9 points and 4.4 assists during four years in Charlotte.
The Pacers also have added Ian Mahinmi, point guard D.J. Augustin and forward Gerald Green. This comes after the team added center Miles Plumlee and guard Orlando Johnson on draft night.
Mahinmi came in a deal that sent point guard Darren Collison and wing player Dahntay Jones to Dallas. Green and Augustin were free agents.
Re-signing Hibbert and Hill gives the Pacers the stability they sought. Adding Green, Johnson and Augustin gives the Pacers more players who can attack the basket and score off the bench. Plumlee and Mahinmi give the Pacers athletic posts who can step in if Hibbert gets into foul trouble.
Hibbert has grown tremendously as a player since the Pacers picked him up on draft night in 2008. He was in and out of the starting lineup under coach Jim O'Brien, but once Frank Vogel replaced O'Brien, he flourished.
"People told me maybe I could be a good backup or maybe have a long career, but this organization believed in me, and it's the only place I want to be right now," he said.
Hibbert's importance to the Pacers goes well beyond the court. He's active in the community and has become arguably the most popular Pacers player. His Area 55 section of Bankers Life Fieldhouse is the rowdiest in the building.
The Pacers matched an offer by the Portland TrailBlazers to keep Hibbert.
"Portland was on my list of teams that, if Indiana didn't match, it would have been a pretty good opportunity to go out there and play," Hibbert said. "It was pretty serious."
Hill joined the Pacers after a draft-day deal in 2011 that sent Indiana draft pick Kawhi Leonard to San Antonio, and he averaged 9.6 points and 2.9 assists per game last season. The Indianapolis native began the season as a productive player off the bench, then became the starter after Darren Collison was hurt and kept the job through the Pacers' playoff run.
"I'm just happy to be back, to be a part of this Pacer team," he said. "I can't wait to get back with my teammates and get things rolling."
Hill has high hopes for the Pacers going forward. Last year's team had significant additions in Hill and free agent forward David West, and it came together quickly with a training camp that was shortened because of the lockout.
"This team can be scary good," he said. "We've done good with the progress we've made here, but it wasn't our goal. To do what we did in a short amount of time - I think we shocked everyone. To get it back and still have most everyone coming back and adding some great pieces, I think we can do a lot more, especially with a lot more time underneath our belts."
Summer league could boost Heat G Cole
MIAMI (AP) — Norris Cole gets recognized on the streets a little more now. People stop to say hello, others say congratulations, some just ask him to pose for a quick photograph.
Such is life for an NBA champion.
For the next few days, his offseason is on hold. Cole will be tasked with leading Miami's summer league team when it opens its five-games-in-seven-days grind in Las Vegas starting on Sunday, and after his rookie season ended with the Heat winning the NBA Finals, the former Cleveland State standout believes expectations for him will be high.
"Back to the grind. Trying to get better," Cole said. "Even though we won a championship, I'd still like to get better, I need to get better in order to help this team grow."
That's exactly what the Heat want him to say right now. Heat assistant coach David Fizdale — who's running the summer-league club — is making no secret that he wants Cole to be the coach on the floor, the guy calling plays, the person making sure everything runs the way it's supposed to run. It should be a stiff challenge for Cole, who spent his rookie year backing up Miami starting point guard Mario Chalmers.
Cole had plenty of impressive moments early on in the regular season, and again during Miami's march to the NBA title. So just like on the streets when he's out and about, Cole is going to be recognized — and presumably tested — by opponents in Las Vegas as well.
"See, we're breeding Norris a different way," Fizdale said. "Norris is a hunter. Norris doesn't care about people coming after him and all of that. We're developing him to be an attacker. He's going out to Vegas with the intent to destroy whoever he plays against. I don't even want him ever thinking that he's arrived to a point where he's now being hunted, OK? He has to stay hungry. He has to play this summer like a guy that did not win a title."
Cole is one of three players from Miami's title-winning roster set to play in summer league, joining center Dexter Pittman and guard Terrel Harris, who is not guaranteed a roster spot with the Heat next season.
It's an important week for all three.
The Heat want to see what Cole can do when he's in charge, what Pittman can do with a more marquee role, and will likely spend plenty of time evaluating Harris, who wants to be back in Miami next season.
Pittman said that even though he is under contract, he's treating summer league like a job interview.
"We know when we go to summer league, the target's going to be on our back," Pittman said. "It's just like an AAU tournament. If you're the best team in the country, everybody's going to go after you. We know that we've got to go in there, play hard and we can't go in there like we're the champions, be all cocky and bold. We've got to go in there, be humble and play hard."
Harris had a similar thought process, though insisted he doesn't feel extra pressure because of his lack of a contract.
"Something's going to happen. Something's always going to happen," Harris said. "But at the same time, I don't sit here and stress about if I'm going to be here or not. I just try to make sure I do what I can. That's what got me here last year, that's what got me on the team and that's my method for this year."
Also on Miami's summer roster is second-round pick Justin Hamilton, the 7-footer from LSU who was taken 45th overall in last month's NBA draft. When the Heat opened summer camp, it didn't take Hamilton long to make an impression on Fizdale.
"I like him," Fizdale said. "He's tough. He's fundamental. He's very skilled. He's physical. He has a great motor. Kid doesn't get tired and he pushes it every possession. You just can't find those guys everywhere. That's a Heat guy. We drafted him for a reason."
But there's little pressure on Hamilton, Pittman or even Harris.
Fizdale is putting plenty of it on Cole, to see how he responds.
"Pretty much, the offense is in his hands," Fizdale said.
-- Tim Reynolds
76ers agree to two-year deal with Brown
PHILADELPHIA (AP) — The Philadelphia 76ers have agreed to a $6 million, two-year contract with former No. 1 overall draft pick Kwame Brown. Agent Mark Bartelstein announced the move Friday.
Brown will be reunited with Sixers coach Doug Collins. Collins was Brown's first coach in Washington in 2001. Brown has averaged 6.8 points and 5.6 rebounds over an 11-year career. The well-traveled Brown was the No. 1 overall pick out of high school in the 2001 draft by the Washington Wizards.
Bartelstein said one reason Brown was eager to join the Sixers was because Collins was like a "father figure" to the center.
"Kwame and Doug have a relationship that I think really has grown over the years," Bartelstein said. "It's a great fit."
Brown signed a $7 million, one-year deal with Golden State before last season. But he played in only nine games and averaged 6.3 points and 6.3 rebounds in 20.8 minutes before needing season-ending surgery on his chest muscle.
The 30-year-old Brown is set to play for his seventh team. He will join a frontcourt that includes Spencer Hawes, Thaddeus Young, Lavoy Allen, Nik Vucevic and rookie Arnett Moultrie. The Sixers waived veteran forward Elton Brand this week.
"It gives Kwame a chance to play an integral role on a playoff team," Bartelstein said.
Brown never lived up to his No. 1 billing after Michael Jordan picked him out of high school. Only once has he averaged double digits in points over a full season and, even in his limited minutes, the 6-foot-11 center failed to block a shot last season. Brown played four seasons with the Wizards before bouncing around to the Lakers, Memphis, Detroit, Charlotte and the Warriors.
The Sixers also this week acquired forward Dorrell Wright from the Warriors and signed free-agent guard Nick Young to a one-year contract.
-- Dan Gelston
Blazers formally sign Hickson, Freeland, picks
PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — The Portland Trail Blazers have formally signed free agent power forward J.J. Hickson, British forward Joel Freeland and draft picks Damian Lillard and Meyers Leonard. The flurry of signings was announced by the Blazers on Friday while speculation continued to swirl about restricted free agent Nicolas Batum.
Hickson was claimed by the Blazers off waivers from Sacramento last March and played in 19 games for Portland, averaging 15.1 points and 8.3 rebounds. He was signed to a 1-year deal. Freeland, a 2006 draft pick by the Blazers, averaged 12.9 points and 7.5 rebounds last season with Unicaja Malaga of the Spanish ACB League. The 25-year-old center-forward is a starter for Great Britain's national team, which is competing in the London Games as the host nation.
The Blazers took Lillard out of Weber State with the sixth pick before selecting the 7-foot-1 Leonard out of Illinois with the 11th pick in the June draft.
Lillard, a two-time Big Sky Conference player of the year, averaged 24.5 points, 5.0 rebounds and 4.0 assists as a junior with the Wildcats.  New Blazers general manager Neil Olshey called him the team's "franchise point guard," on draft night.
Leonard averaged 13.6 points and 8.2 rebounds as a sophomore last season. He led the Big Ten with an average of 1.9 blocks per game.
The Blazers have said they will match any offer for Batum, who was being courted by the Minnesota Timberwolves. The French swingman has averaged 10.2 points and 3.9 rebounds over four seasons with Portland.
76ers G Silas needs surgery on face
ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — Philadelphia 76ers guard Xavier Silas needs surgery on several sinus fractures following a collision in a summer league game.
Silas was injured Friday in Orlando, Fla., when he took an inadvertent elbow to the head by teammate Solo Jones. Silas also suffered a concussion.
The Sixers say Silas needs surgery Saturday where doctors will fuse several frontal sinus fractures. There is no timetable for his return. Silas did not appear in any regular-season games with the Sixers after signing with them in April.
Silas tried to block a shot against the Pistons on Friday when Jones made contact with the head. Sixers guard Evan Turner wrote on Twitter that he spoke with Silas and "Thank god he's alright."
He went undrafted after playing at collegiately at Colorado and Northern Illinois University.
Bobcats make it official, sign PG Sessions
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — The Charlotte Bobcats have signed free agent point guard Ramon Sessions from the Los Angeles Lakers.
Sessions had agreed to a two-year contract after opting out of his contract with the Lakers, but made it official Friday. He replaces D.J. Augustine, who signed with the Indianapolis Pacers shortly after the Bobcats rescinded their qualifying offer to him.
A five-year NBA veteran, the 6-foot-3 Sessions has played in 323 career games with the Bucks, Timberwolves, Cavaliers and Lakers, averaging 11.1 points, 5.0 assists and 3.1 rebounds in 25.4 minutes.
Bobcats president of basketball operations Rod Higgins says Sessions "is a quality point guard who can both distribute and score," and that the Bobcats are "excited to be adding a player of his caliber and ability."
Free agent guard Billups re-signs with Clippers
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Five-time All-Star Chauncey Billups is staying with the Los Angeles Clippers. The team said Friday that the unrestricted free agent has re-signed, a move coach Vinny Del Negro had mentioned a day earlier.
Billups averaged 15 points, 4 assists and 2.5 rebounds while playing 30.4 minutes in 20 games for the Clippers last season. His season ended in early February when Billups tore his left Achilles tendon in a game at Orlando. But he stayed with the team and served as a de facto coach during the Clippers' run to the Western Conference semifinals.
Billups had been claimed off waivers by the Clippers last December, a couple weeks before the lockout-shortened season began.
Bobcats sign second-round draft pick Taylor
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — The Bobcats announced Friday they've signed second-round draft pick Jeffrey Taylor. The 6-foot-7 small forward from Vanderbilt was the 31st overall pick in this year's NBA draft. Financial terms were not released.
Taylor is the only Vanderbilt player in school history to rank in the top 10 in career scoring (1,897), rebounding (752) and steals (146). During his senior season he averaged 16.1 points, 5.6 rebounds and 1.7 assists while averaging 32 minutes per game. He was named first-team All-SEC last season.
He's expected to backup first-round draft pick Michael Kidd-Gilchrist at small forward. Kidd-Gilchrist had previously signed with the Bobcats.
International Men
Griffin off Olympic team with knee injury
WASHINGTON (AP) — Blake Griffin has officially withdrawn from the Olympics and Anthony Davis has been added to the U.S. basketball team's roster.
Griffin needs surgery to repair torn cartilage in his left knee and joins a lengthy list of American stars that are sidelined this summer.
Davis replaced him in the Americans' 113-59 exhibition victory over the Dominican Republic on Thursday in Las Vegas, scoring nine points in the fourth quarter. The No. 1 overall draft pick couldn't be put on the 12-man roster for London until Griffin had withdrawn Friday.
"Blake worked extremely hard in our training camp and certainly would have been a valuable contributor," USA Basketball chairman Jerry Colangelo said in a statement. "This is another unfortunate injury, but we have to continue to move on and we're very fortunate to have Anthony Davis available. Anthony offers our team additional height and length, and this will be an incredible experience for him."
Davis sprained his ankle during a workout with the New Orleans Hornets and was unable to scrimmage when the Americans opened training camp last Friday, ruining any chance he had of making the original 12-man roster. But Colangelo, intrigued by Davis' skills, asked the 6-foot-10 forward to stick around with the select team of young players that was training against the national team, knowing he could be called upon as a replacement if there were another injury.
The college player of the year at national champion Kentucky last season brings rebounding and shot blocking to a team that has lost Griffin, Dwight Howard and Chris Bosh from its frontcourt.
"Whatever Coach K wants me to do I am going to do," Davis said. "I am going to look forward to the challenges, and I'm looking forward to going overseas and my first time out of the United States. I am looking forward to that and getting to mingle with some of the guys and getting to know them and their workout routines and how they get ready for each game. They are superstars and they are here for a reason, so I'll just try to emulate what they do."
Davis made a quick impression Thursday in his nine minutes on the floor, highlighted by a 3-pointer he hit while being fouled just in front of the U.S. bench.
Griffin hurt his knee during the playoffs and played through the pain before the Clippers were eliminated. He was playing well in camp and being counted on as an option at center before experiencing pain in the knee following practice Wednesday. He flew back to Los Angeles on Thursday and an MRI exam revealed the extent of the injury.
"I'm disappointed I can't be with the guys in London," Griffin said. "I want to wish them all the best in their pursuit of the gold medal."
Davis will become just the third player to suit up for the U.S. in the Olympics without playing in the pros since NBA players were first used in 1992, joining the Dream Team's Christian Laettner and former Connecticut center Emeka Okafor in 2004. He will be back on the court with the Americans when they have their first practice here Saturday.
-- Brian Mahoney
International Women
Taurasi says she healthy, ready for Olympics
Diana Taurasi is healthy again and raring to go.
The Phoenix star missed the Mercury's last 16 games with a hip flexor and ankle injury, but said she is ready for the Olympics, which begin in two weeks.
"I'm feeling really good, I'll be ready to go," Taurasi told The Associated Press in a phone interview this week. "I can't wait to get to D.C. to start playing again."
The Americans will train together in D.C. for two days before playing Brazil in an exhibition game Monday night. From there they will head to Manchester for a game against Britain before a five-day training session in Istanbul.
The 30-year-old Taurasi, who will be playing in her third Olympics, didn't have any worries that she'd miss the London Games.
"No, I didn't have any fear, I knew I'd be ready to play," Taurasi said. "Coach (Geno Auriemma) and I have been texting each other a lot, he's excited. Whenever we get together with the national team, it's an exciting time. The Olympics is an amazing opportunity to show all the hard work we've put in as individuals."
Despite only playing 36 minutes so far this WNBA season, Taurasi isn't concerned that she'll be out of game shape. Her rehabilitation began in late May with three weeks of physical therapy before moving on to a strength and conditioning stage. She didn't get back onto the court until about three weeks ago.
Taurasi plans to use the training camp in Washington D.C. this weekend as a chance to get herself back into game mode.
The former UConn star isn't the only member of the U.S. women's national team who has been banged up in the early part of the WNBA season. Atlanta standout Angel McCoughtry has been sidelined since July 1 with a left knee sprain.
"I anticipate that Angel will be a full strength by the time training camp opens on Saturday," said Dream coach Marynell Meadors, who is an assistant on the Olympic team. "She's been rehabbing and working all week on getting her knee stronger so that she can play without pain."
Sue Bird and Seimone Augustus also missed games in the early part of the WNBA season, but Taurasi wasn't worried.
"People play a lot of basketball," she said. "Sue's taken some games, Seimone with her hip. Everyone's missed a game who is on the Olympic team. Once we get together in D.C., we'll be 100 percent and ready to go."
Taurasi also wasn't worried that the lawsuit facing coach Auriemma will be a distraction to the team's ultimate goal of winning a fifth straight gold medal.
"We're all old enough that we've been through a lot of distractions in our life," she said. "We will keep the ultimate goal in focus and try to do our best. Everyone will be fine."
The U.S. women's national team opens up its Olympic play on July 28 against Croatia. Other teams in the Americans' group are China, Angola, the Czech Republic and Turkey.
The other group consists of Australia, Russia, France, Canada, Britain, and Brazil. The Australians will be missing Taurasi's friend and Mercury teammate Penny Taylor, who is sidelined with a knee injury.
"Penny was the glue of their national team when they won the worlds in '06, she was the best player at that tournament," Taurasi said. "With her missing, it's going to affect you. They'll find a way to get other people to contribute. She's disappointed, she's worked so hard to get to the point to get to London."
-- Doug Feinberg
Dream's McCoughtry, Meadors unique Olympic duo
ATLANTA (AP) — The Dream's Angel McCoughtry and Marynell Meadors will share a unique bond during the London Games: They are the only WNBA player-coach tandem on a U.S. squad shooting for a fifth consecutive gold medal.
McCoughtry, the WNBA's leading scorer, will be making her Olympic debut along with three other newcomers. However, the Atlanta forward will miss her fourth consecutive game because of a sprained knee ligament when the team plays at San Antonio on Friday.
Meadors said McCoughtry had been with the Dream on their current West coast trip, but returned to Atlanta on July 8. She hasn't played since July 1.
"She has been rehabbing her knee the last few games to get ready for the Olympics," Meadors said. "She plans to be ready to go by the time we get to London."
Despite a slow start this season, the explosive McCoughtry is averaging 22.6 points per game. She has led the Dream to back-to-back WNBA finals since she was drafted No. 1 out of Louisville three years ago.
The 25-year-old McCoughtry has a chance to play in a few more Olympics — possibly joining the ranks of her 2012 teammates, Sue Bird, Tamika Catchings and Diana Taurasi, who will be participating in their third.
USA Basketball women's national team director, Carol Callan, said that individually Meadors and McCoughtry are exceptional. Callan, who is part of the committee that selected both women, said having them together is a bonus.
"It helps that Marynell knows Angel as well as she does. It's definitely an advantage," Callan said. "It's not always something we are necessarily looking to do but it's a nice benefit to the team."
Meadors is also making her Olympic debut.
"Her success with the Atlanta Dream speaks for itself," Callan said. "She knows the strength and weaknesses of everyone. She is a great resource on the players end and also as a coach because of what has been successful with her coaching for the Dream."
A key player in that success has been McCoughtry, whose selection was a simple decision.
"Angel is obviously a star player in the WNBA and we want her for all those reasons that come with it," Callan said. "Certainly her athleticism, she is very efficient at getting to the basket."
Callan said one of McCoughtry's strong suits is her ability to "cause havoc on the defensive end."
"She can handle the ball herself and she adds the speed and the quickness that makes the team always feel like they are back on their heels," Callan said.
And McCoughtry is ready to do just that. Her face lights up with a bright smile with the mere mention of the Olympics.
"I'm going to be with the best coach in the world and the best players in the world. I can't help but be excited about everything," McCoughtry said. "I'm ready, my bags are already packed."
Meadors, who will be assistant on head coach Geno Auriemma's staff, said it's hard to articulate how much the honor means.
"To have the opportunity to represent the United States in the Olympics is an experience that most people don't have the opportunity to do, and I'm very thankful I was selected for that," she said.
A shot at Olympic gold has helped McCoughtry remain upbeat. Despite the sore left knee that has caused her to miss several WNBA games this season, McCoughtry said she has been training hard for the London Games.
"I'm just so excited not just to see another country, but to go out and play with the girls," she said.
McCoughtry said trying to win games while prepping for London has been a juggling act, but she isn't complaining.
"It's what I do. It's what I love to do," she said.
After the Dream (9-9) wraps up their six-game, 15-day road trip Friday at San Antonio. Meadors and McCoughtry will join the USA women's Olympic team in Washington for a condensed practice schedule. The team will play its first exhibition game Monday against Brazil at the Verizon Center.
"Everybody is pretty much on task when they get to us because they know we don't have a lot of time," Callan said.
Twelve practice days is all they will have before the Olympics begin. Other teams have an average of three months to prepare.
Just before the WNBA season started, the USA squad practiced in Seattle in May, and this weekend marks the first time the team has been together since then. The 12 days of practice include four exhibition games: Monday's game against Brazil and others against Britain, Croatia and Turkey.
The Olympic tournament begins July 28 and ends with the gold-medal game on Aug. 11.
-- Ashley Hopkinson
Silver Stars' win streak reaches nine
SAN ANTONIO (AP) — Jia Perkins scored 21 points and the San Antonio Silver Stars defeated the Atlanta Dream 91-70 Friday night for a franchise-record ninth straight victory.
San Antonio (13-5) also established the franchise's best start after 18 games.
Becky Hammon added 15 points for the Silver Stars. Sophia Young, Danielle Robinson and Shenice Johnson each had 12.
"I feel like they have the best bench in the WNBA right now and a great point guard (Hammon)," Dream guard Armintie Price said.
Perkins and Johnson sparked San Antonio's bench, which outscored Atlanta's 44-3.
"Wow," Johnson said when told of the disparity. "It just goes back to us being a complete team. Our confidence is really, really high. We know that from players one to 11, every time we come off the bench, we're just really, really confident. Coach instills that into us."
The reserves scored 27 points in the second half, helping the Silver Stars hold a double-digit lead throughout the final quarter.
Sancho Lyttle led Atlanta with 21 points. Tiffany Hayes and Armintie Price had 15 each.
The Silver Stars went 4 minutes without a field goal after Shameka Christon's 16-foot jumper gave them a 44-37 lead early in the second half. Their only points in that span were a pair of free throws by Jayne Appel.
San Antonio led 46-45 partly because of Atlanta's offensive struggles. The Dream had 20 turnovers to offset shooting 46 percent from the field.
"When you are playing a good team you cannot have so many mistakes," Lyttle said. "We had a lot of mistakes in the second half and they capitalized on it and they won."
San Antonio took a 57-52 lead with 3 minutes left in the third when Perkins hit a 3-pointer on an assist from Young, who jumped out of bounds to save the ball.
Young later sprinted past the defense to close the quarter by tossing in a jumper at the buzzer for a 65-52 lead.
The Silver Stars extended their lead to 80-63 when Perkins completed a four-point play after being fouled by Ketia Swanier on a 3-pointer. Perkins was 6 for 7 overall from 3-point range.
"(Perkins) was amazing tonight," San Antonio coach Dan Hughes said. "She's had a great week for us. She's just absolutely a sparkplug for us coming off the bench."
The Silvers Stars scored at least 20 points in every quarter in surpassing 90 points for the fifth time during the winning streak.
The Dream had seven fast-break points in the opening quarter, including a layup by Price in a 9-3 run for a 26-20 lead.
"In the first quarter we weren't defensively where we wanted to be," Hammon said. "I didn't think we were getting back in transition but once we adjusted, we were able to get back in transition and slow them up a little bit.
"Our efficiency offensively helps a little bit because it takes a couple of extra seconds to take the ball out (after a basket). It all works together when we get good defensively we get really good offensively."
The Silver Stars' longest winning streak comes as they enter a monthlong break due to the Olympics.
"I think (the break) can help us," Perkins said. "A lot of people's bodies are banged up. Personally, I can use it to get some rest. We just have to be professional and take care of our bodies and still work. That's what we plan on doing and we plan on coming back and not losing a beat."
The Dream were without starting forward Angel McCoughtry, who has been sidelined since July 1 with a left knee sprain.
Capsules: Hightower sends Sun past Sky
ROSEMONT, Ill. (AP) — Allison Hightower's layup with 8.9 seconds left in overtime helped lift the Connecticut Sun over the Chicago sky 80-78 on Friday night.
The Sun (15-4) rallied from a 12-point fourth-quarter deficit to force a 66-66 tie at the end of regulation. In an overtime with eight lead changes, Hightower's driving layup gave Connecticut the lead for good at 79-78 and Kara Lawson added a free throw two seconds later to help secure the win.
Tina Charles had a game-high 25 points and 13 rebounds, Mistie Mims had a career-high 19 and Renee Montgomery added 15 as the Sun entered the Olympic break with five straight wins.
Chicago (8-9) briefly had possession following Hightower's score until Sonja Petrovic was called for traveling with 5.2 seconds left.
Courtney Vandersloot scored a career-high 22 points for the Sky, who dropped their fourth straight. Sylvia Fowles had 20 points and 10 rebounds while Tamera Young and Shay Murphy had 14 and 13 points, respectively.
PHOENIX (AP) — Katie Smith scored 14 of her game-high 19 points in the first quarter and Seattle beat Phoenix.
Camille Little added 15 and Shekinna Stricklen had 15 points and 11 rebounds for the Storm (9-10), who beat the Mercury for the second time in six days.
DeWanna Bonner scored 18 points, Lynetta Kizer had 14 and Alexis Hornbuckle added 13 for Phoenix (4-15), which matched a franchise record with six third-quarter points, set twice previously and most recently in 2008.
The Mercury have lost six straight and eight of their past nine.
NEWARK, N.J. (AP) — Crystal Langhorne scored 24 points to lead last-place Washington over New York.
Monique Currie added 16 points for the Mystics (4-14), who snapped a four-game losing streak and won for the second time in 11 games. Washington shot 43 percent (24 for 56) from the field and 68 percent (19 for 28) on free throws.
Cappie Pondexter scored 22 points for the Liberty (6-12), losers of three straight and seven of their last 10. New York shot 32 percent (22 for 68), including 1 for 15 from 3-point range and 8 of 9 at the free throw line.


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