INCLINE VILLAGE, Nev. (AP) — Celtics officials say NBA Hall of Famer Bill Russell is doing OK after collapsing during a speaking engagement near Lake Tahoe.
Team spokesman Brian Olive says the 80-year-old Russell felt faint after the Thursday morning fall at the Hyatt Regency resort in Incline Village, Nevada, but was planning on returning home to Seattle this evening.
Witness Michael Rooney tells The Associated Press that Russell was telling a story about Wilt Chamberlain to a roomful of Konica Minolta employees when he started to sway at the podium and then fell backward.
Rooney says Russell seemed to be conscious as hotel personnel and first responders came to his aid. The meeting was cut short and attendees left.
Russell, a five-time NBA MVP, is considered one of the best players in basketball history.
He won 11 championships in 13 years as a center with the Celtics. As a player-coach for the last two, he was the first black head coach in a major U.S. pro sport.
He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1975, was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2010 and was honored last year with a statue outside Boston’s City Hall.
Pierce, Blair moving on to Washington
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Washington Wizards have officially signed veteran forward Paul Pierce.
Pierce, who turns 37 in October, spent 15 seasons with the Boston Celtics before being traded to the Brooklyn Nets last season.
“We are very happy to welcome Paul to our organization and add his championship experience and history of clutch play to our team,” Wizards president Ernie Grunfeld said in a statement.
Pierce averaged a career-low 13.5 points last season in his first year with the Nets. But he is a 10-time All-Star who has gained a reputation as one of the best big-moment players in the league
Led by guards John Wall and Bradley Beal, Washington reached the second round of the Eastern Conference playoffs last season, their first postseason appearance since 2008.
“He will be a good fit alongside our young, dynamic backcourt while his presence and leadership will make a difference for us both on and off the court,” Grunfeld said of Pierce.
The Wizards have also acquired center DeJuan Blair in a sign-and-trade deal with the Dallas Mavericks.
The 6-foot-7 Blair averaged 6.4 points and 4.7 rebounds in 78 games in his only season with Dallas. He spent his first four seasons with San Antonio and has career averages of 7.5 points and 5.6 rebounds.
Dallas obtained the rights to Emir Preldzic in Tuesday’s trade. The 6-9 Preldzic was selected by Phoenix with the 57th overall pick in the 2009 draft.^^^
Davis signs two-year deal with Lakers
LAS VEGAS (AP) — Ed Davis is on his way to the Los Angeles Lakers, giving the changing Lakers frontcourt another athletic big man and Davis another chance to show what he can do.
Davis agreed to a two-year, $2 million deal with the Lakers on Wednesday night, a person with knowledge of the situation told The Associated Press. The person requested anonymity because an official announcement has not been made. The deal includes a player option for the second season, giving him the chance to get back on the market quickly if things go well.
Toronto made Davis the 13th overall pick in 2010, hoping the forward would add a dynamic element to its frontcourt. He showed real flashes early on in his career, averaging 7.7 points and 7.1 rebounds in under 25 minutes per game during his rookie season.
Two years later, Davis was shipped to Memphis as part of the trade that sent Rudy Gay to the Raptors, and he struggled to find consistent playing time on a Grizzlies team loaded with talent and experience in the frontcourt. When the Grizzlies re-signed Zach Randolph this summer, it made Davis expendable.
The opportunity is there for him in Los Angeles. The Lakers are going through a period of transition, with longtime power forward Pau Gasol headed to Chicago and veteran center Chris Kaman gone to Portland.
The Lakers brought back veteran Jordan Hill and drafted Kentucky’s Julius Randle with the seventh overall pick in June. But that’s about the extent of their depth in the frontcourt, so the opportunity is there for Davis to come in and make an impact.
After bringing back Hill and guard Nick Young and acquiring point guard Jeremy Lin in a trade with Houston, the Lakers used up nearly all of their cap room.
So squeezing in Davis for $2 million — a deal that was first reported by Yahoo! Sports — could be one of the bargains of the summer.
Cavs, Jones agree on minimum deal
The Cleveland Cavaliers are moving quickly to surround LeBron James with shooters, and it probably helps that James knows exactly what he’s getting.
A day after the Cavs locked up James’ buddy and former teammate Mike Miller, they agreed to terms with Miami Heat free agent James Jones on a one-year, veteran-minimum contract, a person with knowledge of the situation told The Associated Press on Wednesday.
Jones, who spent the previous four seasons playing with James in Miami, will earn $1.4 million next season. The person requested anonymity because an official announcement has not been made.
Jones spent the past six of his 11 NBA seasons in Miami. Last year Jones shot a career-high 46 percent on 3-pointers, but only appeared in 20 games. He hasn’t been a regular contributor since averaging 19.1 minutes in 81 games for the Heat in 2010-11, James’ first season in Miami.
He will turn 34 in October, but formed a solid relationship with James while with the Heat.
He joins Miller, who agreed to a two-year deal on Tuesday, as former James teammates that are following him to Cleveland.
Miller’s departure from Miami before last season didn’t sit well with James, and the veteran shooter spent last season in Memphis.