NBA News and Rumors – June 29, 2009

Nash: Shaq a fit with Cleveland

Andre Miller: ‘I’m still peaking’

Utah Jazz: Boozer keeps talking trade

New Orleans Hornets obtain Emeka Okafor in trade for Tyson Chandler

Nash: Shaq a fit with Cleveland

Associated Press

NEW YORK — One star who has played with Shaquille O’Neal thinks he’ll fit in just fine with LeBron James.

"I think he realizes that he’s not in the prime of his career, so to speak," two-time NBA MVP Steve Nash told The Associated Press on Tuesday.

Nash’s Phoenix Suns traded O’Neal to the Cleveland Cavaliers last month, where the 37-year-old center will try to bring James his first championship.

O’Neal is "still a great player, but LeBron is going to be the focal point," Nash said. "I think he’s happy with that. At the same time, he’ll get a lot of opportunities to be in the spotlight, and he’s great at it."

Nash, who recently signed a two-year, $22 million contract extension to stay with Phoenix through the 2011-12 season, is confident another Suns star won’t be traded. Amare Stoudemire has been the subject of plenty of rumors — the forward has one year left on his contract and wants the maximum in any new deal, something the budget-conscious Suns may not be willing to do.

"I don’t see him leaving," Nash said. "I just see him having a phenomenal career and being in Phoenix a long time."

Andre Miller: ‘I’m still peaking’

The Portland Tribune,

Andre Miller and the Portland Trail Blazers agree on a lot of things.

Mostly, they concur on whether he can make the Blazers better, offensively and defensively and in competitiveness and mental toughness.

"The focus is going to be there, and it’s going to be fun," Miller said Tuesday afternoon during a news conference at the team’s practice facility in Tualatin.

The veteran point guard from the University of Utah recently signed a three-year, $21-million contract with the Blazers as a free agent from the Philadelphia 76ers. The third year is at the Blazers’ option.

"It feels pretty good," Miller said, of joining his new team. "We met up in Vegas (during negotiations) and had dinner and pretty much talked basketball. This decision wasn’t that complicated. It was just waiting around, being a free agent like this and knowing how the economy is going.

Utah Jazz: Boozer keeps talking trade

Jody Genessy – Deseret News

Another day, another Carlos Boozer interview in another of his preferred future playing destinations.

And, no, it wasn’t in Utah.

On Tuesday, however, Boozer wasn’t quite as revealing with a Chicago sports radio station as he was in Miami on Monday when he went on about, among other things, how much he loves the South Beach area, how he won’t be playing again for the Utah Jazz, how tough the economy is, how well he personally did in this past spring’s playoffs, how healthy his body is, and how anxious he is to find out what team he’ll be traded to before next season.

While talking to ESPN 1000 in Chicago, where he helped Corey Maggette run a basketball camp, Boozer even seemed to back-pedal on an important point he made to Miami’s WQAM on Monday.

In Florida, Boozer replied to a question about whether or not he could envision himself playing again in Utah with a simple "Um, no" response. But asked during his interview on the "Waddle & Silvy Show" if there would be "hard feelings" should he return to the Jazz, the power forward sounded like he’d changed his stance a bit.

"No," he replied. "Not at all."

Boozer also reiterated that he has allegedly been asked by Jazz management to zip his lips about the whole trade process.

New Orleans Hornets obtain Emeka Okafor in trade for Tyson Chandler

Bob Fortus, The Times-Picayune

To Hornets General Manager Jeff Bower, Emeka Okafor will help the team in many ways.

Okafor, the Hornets’ new man in middle, was acquired Tuesday from the Charlotte Bobcats for Tyson Chandler in a trade of 26-year-old centers.

Okafor brings the potential for consistent double-doubles, said Bower, who also mentioned Okafor’s physical presence in the low post and shot-blocking ability. Besides all that, Okafor is signed through the 2013-2014 season.

"We feel we’ve added a piece to our program that we’re going to have for a long time," Bower said. "We have a long-term option for our center position. "I think it shows we are interested in improving and are interested in competing in the Western Conference, and we’re willing to pay a price to do that."

Okafor is known for gritty inside play. He has averaged double figures in scoring and rebounding in all five of his NBA seasons since he led Connecticut to the NCAA title in 2004. He’s among three players — the others are the San Antonio Spurs’ Tim Duncan and the Orlando Magic’ Dwight Howard — to average double figures in points and rebounds the past five seasons.

Last season, when Okafor played in all 82 games for the second consecutive season, he averaged 13.2 points and 10.1 rebounds per game. He also averaged 1.8 blocks and 3.4 offensive rebounds.

Bower said he expects Okafor’s scoring to increase with the Hornets. His low-post ability will get the attention of the defense, creating opportunities for teammates, Bower said, and Okafor’s rebounding will help the Hornets start their fast break. Easy baskets will come as Okafor becomes familiar with Hornets All-Star point guard Chris Paul.

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