Jeff Pendergraph RumorsAll NBA Players
It was also a complicated decision, with a complex back story, one that tests the traditional definitions of blood and family. “I didn’t know who my dad was until I was a senior in high school,” Jeff Ayres said Wednesday, during a break from pickup games as the Spurs’ practice gym. He was born Jeff Orcutt, using his mother LaDona’s maiden name, and became Pendergraph in elementary school when she married. Growing up in Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., 45 miles east of Los Angeles, the future Jeff Ayres dreamed that his biological father was someone famous, like Denzel Washington or Shaquille O’Neal. A doctor. A musician. Somebody who was somebody. “It turns out it was a mechanic named James,” Ayres said.
In July, the Spurs signed a free agent forward named Jeff Pendergraph to a two-year contract. No player by that name will ever appear in a Spurs uniform. Last month, Pendergraph walked into a courthouse in downtown Phoenix, his wife Raneem and newborn daughter Naomi in tow. He walked out with a new name — Jeff Ayres. Ayres is family name of his biological father, James. It replaces the surname of a stepfather who hasn’t been in the picture since the player formerly known Jeff Pendergraph was in high school.
The San Antonio Spurs have reached agreement on a two-year contract with Indiana Pacers free-agent forward Jeff Pendergraph, league sources told Yahoo! Sports.
With Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals long decided and the bench players running out final moments of the Heat’s win over the Pacers, Norris Cole and Jeff Pendergraph were ejected.
Scott Agness: Jeff Pendergraph has been fined $5,000 for a flop in Game 5. VIDEO: on.nba.com/16Id3uK
So each Pacers game begins with Pendergraph in the middle, shouting and dancing and revving up his teammates. He’s been doing it since his high school days in Rancho Cucamonga, Calif. His teammates grew to love it, so he brought it with him to Arizona State. Five years later, it’s with him in the NBA. “It ties in everything we go through and what coach preaches,” said reserve Orlando Johnson. “Pendy just loses it. It’s not scripted. … It’s all from the heart.”
The ritual stems as much from Jeff Pendergraph’s inkling for improvisation as it does rehearsed choreography. Most nights, he admits, he hasn’t a clue what he’s about to do. You’ve seen it — the Pacers circling around Pendergraph, the third-year reserve forward, while he bounces and dances and screams in the final moments before tip-off. The idea? His energy becomes their energy. “As soon as everyone gets around me, I just snap,” said Pendergraph. So, what exactly is it that he shouts? “I can’t even tell you. I don’t even know myself.”
Indiana Pacers power forward Jeff Pendergraph spent all of last season having to watch NBA games after tearing his anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee. He is back watching again because of a problem with that same knee. But he’s not dealing with another ACL injury. Pendergraph has been sidelined for the past week with a mild sprain in the knee, suffered when he injured it during a Dec. 10 practice. He’ll likely be out until the start of the regular season. “We’re hoping to have him ready for opening night (Dec. 26 against Detroit),” Pacers coach Frank Vogel said. “This is not due to his previous injury.”
Sam Amick: Former Portland big man Jeff Pendergraph is expected to sign a two-year, guaranteed deal in Indiana, according to a source.
Jeff Pendergraph: This lock out is frustrating. The owners need to realize that if there is no season, they’ll still have to pay the loans and overhead they have for their franchises. Stop wasting time
Update on your rehabilitation, have you worked out for team and what’s up with you and the Blazers? Jeff Pendergraph: “Actually, yeah, I’ve had been in contact with a few teams, went and made a couple of visits the last week or so and actually talked with the Blazers yesterday and today so that went really well. I wanted to touch base with them before this lockout stuff goes down and we wouldn’t be able to talk. “Rehab-wise, things are going well. I’ve started doing my core stuff. The only thing I haven’t really done yet is my lateral movements, cutting, jab-stepping, real serious post work just because I want to get my quad strength up first before I do all that stuff. I’m running, shooting jumpers, putting myself through a medium kind of workout. I’m getting there.”
How does the lockout impact you as a free agent? Jeff Pendergraph: “Normally it would be kind of bad because you don’t want to be out that long, everyone is kind of anxious to play again but for me, specifically, actually I think it works in my favor because it gives me extra time and less pressure to try and hurry to come back to try to make somebody’s Summer League team or rush, maybe push myself too hard to get ready for training camp. Now I can take the pressure off and go about it how I’m supposed to instead of trying to push really hard for it.
Pendergraph said that he was initially informed by Utah’s team doctor that his knee injury was minor. “I was like, ‘Cool. Heck yeah. I’m going to be back in 4-6 weeks, I’ll be back smacking people, it’s nothing.'” That initial diagnosis led to some real surprise when an MRI the following day revealed major ACL damage that would end his 2010-2011 season. “All of a sudden I come here, get my MRI and everything as a precaution and the doctor tells me my ACL is gone,” Pendergraph said. “Not partially torn, not a little bit, not a lot … gone.” In short order, with the news that he was done for the season, the Blazers elected to release him to free up a roster spot so that they could pursue big man Fabricio Oberto (and, in turn, Sean Marks). The decision caught Pendergraph by surprise and still doesn’t sit well with him. “To be honest, I felt like I got slapped. It was like a slap in my face, kinda. It caught me off guard. It wasn’t something I was expecting.”
Pendergraph says he will remain in Portland to complete his rehab and then he might move to Arizona. He went to Arizona State and still has several close friends on the team. There, he would have a built-in support net and ample opportunities for pickup basketball games when he’s healthy enough to resume playing. In the offseason, he will see what the free agent market is like and plot his next career course. A return to the Blazers is not out of the question. “We like Jeff as a player and a person,” Cho said. Added Pendergraph, on a possible return: “I don’t see why not. I like it here. It’s just a matter of seeing what’s out there and what other teams offer. Like any major life choice, you have to look at your options.”
Part of the thought process toward waiving Jeff Pendergraph is that the Blazers could re-sign him as a free agent next summer, if they choose to and if he is interested in returning at that point.
Pendergraph is a second-year player who blew out his right knee in the Blazers’ second preseason game. The injury will sideline him for the season. According to a source, the Blazers are engaged in trade discussions and will keep Pendergraph as an asset that could help make a trade work financially. The Blazers have until 3 p.m. Monday to finalize their roster. If they are unable to make a deal, Pendergraph will be waived.