Rondo back on the court for Kentucky

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Rondo back on the court for Kentucky

By Jessica Camerato
CSNNE.com Follow @JCameratoNBA
This week Rajon Rondo returned to Kentucky to put on a show in front of his hometown and college crowds. The Louisville native and former University of Kentucky player participated in the highly anticipated UK Pros - Dominican Republic basketball games organized by Wildcats head coach John Calipari.

Rondo was joined by fellow NBA players John Wall, Eric Bledsoe, DeMarcus Cousins, Keith Bogans, and Nazr Mohammed, among others on the Kentucky squad. The Dominican Republic team included Al Horford, Francisco Garcia, and Edgar Sosa.
A look back at Rondos week . . .

Getting Hyped on Twitter

With seats in high demand, Rondo held a contest to win a pair of tickets to the first game: Send me your best photo wearing your Kentucky blue to win the 2 UK tix to mondays game. Ill announce the winner tmrrw Noon ET Wildcats.

The winner impressed him with a room full of Wildcats gear and memorabilia and a splash of Celtics attire. (The fan later tweeted, @RajonRondo Thanks Rajon for the tickets! Best pg in the league! Wildcats BBN.)

Rondo later tweeted several messages expressing excitement, and even asked fans for their opinion on which sneakers to wear:

Game Day

"Which Shoe should I play in tonight? Uniform color doesn't matter http:yfrog.comh2nfagnj"

Thanks for the support tonight. Had a lot of Fun. Rematch tomorrow

Can't wait to do it again tonight taps.lapvOnv9"
Game Day(s)

In Monday's game in Lexington, a 106-88 victory by the Dominican Republic, Rondo scored three points (1-5 FG, 0-1 3PG, 1-2 FT), dished seven assists, and grabbed seven rebounds in 33 minutes. He led the team in assists (Wall and Bogans had two apiece) while finishing second in boards behind only Cousins (14).

The Dominican Republic earned another victory, 91-86, on Tuesday in Louisville. Rondo scored 14 points (7-18 FG, 0-4 3PG, 0-2 FT), pulled down five rebounds, and had four of Kentucky's six assists in 35 minutes.

Addressing the Media

Following Tuesday's game, Rondo sat down with Mohammed to address the media. And the interview wasn't without a classic Rondo one-liner either. After Mohammed offered a lengthy response to a question about the NBA lockout, Rondo concisely replied, "Correct. A few excerpts from his postgame interview:

On the NBA lockout:

"Right now we're just preparing as if it is a regular season. We've been working out together a little bit, just trying to stay ready, stay in shape, and get better each year. So it hasn't officially started as far as checks coming in stop coming in, but it's a dead period right now."

"Really just go with the flow, really. There's nothing we can do really right now, it's just a matter of waiting til both sides come to an agreement. It's just what it is right now."

On fan support at the games:

"I haven't even played here before but I had a good time. I had a great reception. Obviously it's a lot of Kentucky fans here, so I just tried to come out and give the guys a show and play hard."

"They come out back-to-back nights and support us. Great ovations, great fan participation, so we can't thank the fans enough and we tried to come out there and put on a show for them."

On camaraderie among Kentucky alumni:

"It's just a matter of respect. We all went to the same university and we're all in the league right now. We just have a lot of respect for each other. We all know what we've been through and the journey we took to get to where we are, and that's just what it's about."

Kentucky Camaraderie Continues

The camaraderie mentioned by Rondo was expressed by many of the players on Twitter before, during, and after the games, including:

Wall re-tweeted Lexington-nativeWashington Wizards rookie Shelvin Mack: Headed to Rupp later to support my teammate @jimmywa11 and big homie @RajonRondo......
Mohammed tweeted: We have a lot of great talent from UK in the NBA. It was fun to play with @jimmywa11 @boogiecousins @EBled24 @RajonRondo Jodie, Tay & Keith

Jessica Camerato is on Twitter at http:twitter.com!JCameratoNBA

Draymond Green fined $25,000, not suspended for groin kick

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Draymond Green fined $25,000, not suspended for groin kick

NEW YORK - Draymond Green was fined $25,000 but not suspended by the NBA on Monday for kicking Oklahoma City center Steven Adams in the groin.

The league also upgraded the foul to a flagrant 2, which would have resulted in an automatic ejection had officials given it that ruling when it happened. That moved him closer to an automatic suspension for accumulation of flagrant foul points.

But Green will be on the court when the Warriors try to even the Western Conference finals at 2-2 on Tuesday at Oklahoma City.

Green was called for a flagrant 1 foul after he was fouled by Adams with 5:57 remaining in the second quarter and kicked his leg up into Adams' groin. Though the Thunder felt it was intentional, Green and Warriors coach Steve Kerr said they believed the flagrant would actually be rescinded by the league.

NBA Executive Vice President of Basketball Operations Kiki VanDeWeghe disagreed.

"After a thorough investigation that included review of all available video angles and interviews with the players involved and the officials working the game, we have determined that Green's foul was unnecessary and excessive and warranted the upgrade and fine," VanDeWeghe said in a statement.

"During a game, players - at times - flail their legs in an attempt to draw a foul, but Green's actions in this case warranted an additional penalty."

The NBA determines a flagrant 1 foul to include "unnecessary contact." A flagrant 2 is defined as "unnecessary and excessive contact."

Green now has three flagrant foul points during the postseason. One more will force him to miss Golden State's next game.

Green was an All-Star and the runner-up for Defensive Player of the Year, but had a dismal game as Oklahoma City took a 2-1 lead. He was 1 for 9 from the field with six points and the Warriors were outscored by 43 points when he was on the court.

China's 7-foot-2 Zhou Qi an intriguing option for Celtics

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China's 7-foot-2 Zhou Qi an intriguing option for Celtics

BOSTON -- With eight picks in next month’s NBA draft there’s a very good chance the Celtics will go the draft-and-stash route with a couple of international players, with the goal being for them to stay overseas and grow their game.

That makes China’s Zhou Qi (pronounced Joe Chee), who was in town last week for a workout with the Celtics, a legitimate target with one of Boston’s three, first-round picks.

Selecting Zhou with the No. 3 overall pick is not going to happen. And selecting a player to keep tucked away with the 16th pick is a bit of a stretch, too.

But taking Zhou at No. 23 is definitely something the Celtics will consider. Boston also has five second-round picks, but league executives contacted this weekend by CSNNE.com anticipate he will be taken in the latter stages of the first round.

While little is known about Zhou in the United States, the Celtics have had him on their radar for quite some time.

“We’ve known about him for a couple of years,” said Austin Ainge, Boston’s director of player personnel. “He’s probably the third- or fourth-most recognized name in Chinese basketball.

Indeed, Zhou is trying to follow a path towards the NBA that was paved by Chinese big men Yao Ming and Yi Jianlian, who were both high lottery picks (Yao was the No. 1 overall pick for Houston in 2002 while Yi was selected with the sixth overall pick in 2007 by Milwaukee).

Zhou’s stock isn’t quite that high, but there’s no mistaking he's a player that several teams with first-round picks are intrigued by.

At 7-2 1/4, Zhou’s wingspan at the NBA combine earlier this month measured an astounding 7-7 3/4. The only other player whose wingspan was greater than that at the NBA combine was Utah’s Rudy Gobert (7-8 1/2). Zhou has a standing reach of 9-4 1/2 and can touch the rim on his tippy toes.

However, Zhao’s lithe frame (he weighs 218.2 pounds, which is a little more than 10 pounds more than he weighed a few months ago) is indeed reason for some teams to give serious thought to keeping him overseas to fill out his frame for another year or two.

Despite being so skinny, teams have raved about his surprisingly nimble movement as well as his skill level.

During the combine earlier this month in Chicago, Zhou showed some his deft shooting touch by draining 14-of-25 3s taken from five different points on the floor. In addition to his scoring, Zhou is a much more athletic big man that most might expect, which can be seen in his maximum vertical leap measuring out at 31 1/2 inches.

Think about this:

The guy can practically touch the rim without jumping, and then you top that off with a vertical leap of more than 30 inches?

Boston was just one of a handful of teams the 20-year-old decided to work out for leading up to next month’s draft. 

“It was great to have him in,” Ainge said.

The Suns were another. During his workout with Phoenix, the Suns pitted him against Eric Jacobsen of Arizona State. They were looking to see how Zhou handled himself against Jacobsen, who is a 6-10, 240-pound center.

“Usually my hand is up by the ball, but I was getting up to his face and the ball was, way up there,” Jacobsen told the Arizona Republic.

Suns assistant general manager Pat Connelly was eager to get an up-close look at how Zhou handled himself against a strong center like Jacobsen.

“You can see that stuff on tape, but it’s always good to see a guy come in and get an appreciation for how a guy takes the contact,” Connelly told the Republic. “Which will be important for him going forward. He did well.”