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Posts tagged with Ben Mclemore

No playoffs for Morris twins

Phoenix Suns' Markieff Morris sits in the locker room after an NBA basketball game against the Memphis Grizzlies, Monday, April 14, 2014, in Phoenix. The Grizzlies won 97-91 eliminating the Suns from the playoffs. (AP Photo/Matt York)

Phoenix Suns' Markieff Morris sits in the locker room after an NBA basketball game against the Memphis Grizzlies, Monday, April 14, 2014, in Phoenix. The Grizzlies won 97-91 eliminating the Suns from the playoffs. (AP Photo/Matt York)

Phoenix needed to beat Memphis Monday night in step No. 1 of its last chance at the NBA Playoffs.

The next couple steps never came into play for the Suns, who bring twins Markieff and Marcus Morris off their bench, because the Grizzlies won in Phoenix, 97-91, to snag the eighth and final available playoff berth in the Western Conference.

Difficult as it may have been for Markieff to deal with the reality of the Suns' fate, the 6-foot-10 power forward gave his up-and-coming team a legitimate chance, leading Phoenix with 21 points off the bench.

As Paul Coro wrote for AZcentral.com, Markieff hit seven of eight shots in one eight-minute stretch of the second half. He finished 10-for-16 from the floor with three blocks and two rebounds in 28 minutes.

Markieff hit a couple of long jumpers in the fourth quarter, and threw down a dunk, but missed a three-pointer with 20 seconds left that would have cut a 95-91 Memphis lead to one.

Coro discusses what comes next for Markieff and Marcus in a video for AZcentral.com. The twins both are eligible for contract extensions this summer. They could easily play out the 2014-15 season without re-signing, though, and enter free agency in 2015.


Markieff makes his case for sixth man award

Phoenix Suns forward Markieff Morris dunks during the second half of an NBA basketball game against the San Antonio Spurs on Friday, April 11, 2014, in San Antonio. (AP Photo/Darren Abate)

Phoenix Suns forward Markieff Morris dunks during the second half of an NBA basketball game against the San Antonio Spurs on Friday, April 11, 2014, in San Antonio. (AP Photo/Darren Abate)

Markieff's value to Phoenix can't be underestimated. He's averaging 13.8 points, 6.0 rebounds and hitting 48.6% from the floor with one game left in the regular season.

He recently was asked by AZcentral.com to explain what makes him a top candidate for Sixth Man of the Year.

"Coming off the bench with energy, scoring, rebounding, making my teammates better and winning games, especially when we were supposed to win 17… You knew the Clippers (Jamal Crawford reference) were going to be good. You knew the Bulls (Taj Gibson reference) were going to be good, with or without D (Derrick) Rose. Y'all thought we were going after a Number 1 pick. I think I deserve Sixth Man Award for the team success."

Markieff went on to say the award would have meant more had Phoenix been a playoff team.

For what it's worth Grantland's Zach Lowe voted Markieff third for Sixth Man of the Year, behind Gibson and San Antonio's Manu Ginobili. Lowe also pegged Markieff as the third-best candidate for Most Improved Player, behind his Phoenix teammate Goran Dragic and Sacramento big man DeMarcus Cousins.

As Lowe points out, Morris has become an efficient offensive threat in his third season in the league:

He’s up to 50 percent on 2s this season, with a refined post-up game. Morris can shoot over guys with a soft touch, but if he thinks he can do better, he’ll face up, put the ball on the floor, and attack the rim.

We know who would receive Marcus' vote for the sixth man award.

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Collison ejected

Oklahoma City Thunder forward Nick Collison, left, and New Orleans Pelicans guard Austin Rivers, third right, get into a scuffle in the first half of an NBA basketball game in New Orleans, Monday, April 14, 2014. Both were ejected from the game. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

Oklahoma City Thunder forward Nick Collison, left, and New Orleans Pelicans guard Austin Rivers, third right, get into a scuffle in the first half of an NBA basketball game in New Orleans, Monday, April 14, 2014. Both were ejected from the game. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

Maybe the end of the regular season has some players feeling testy. Maybe college blue bloods don't like each other.

For the second time in less than a week, a former KU player and a former Duke player got into a scuffle on the NBA hardwood. Over the weekend, it was Ben McLemore and J.J. Redick.

Monday night, it was Nick Collison and Austin Rivers.

The veteran power forward from KU and the fiery young guard out of Duke bumped into each other a few times before it turned into a skirmish and both were ejected in the second quarter of what turned out to be a New Orleans victory.

Collison went scoreless in eight minutes of action, and NewsOK.com's Darnell Mayberry reported the 10th-year veteran picked up the first ejection of his career.


Tweetworthy

Noteworthy tweets about and from the 'Hawks in the NBA:

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None by Ira Winderman

None by Ben McLemore

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None by Ballislife.com


'Hawks in the NBA standings

It's finally the last day of the 82-game marathon that is the regular season, so here's a look at where all of the NBA's Jayhawks stand, with the playoffs starting up this weekend.

We'll rank the Kansas products according to their franchise's record.

PLAYOFF TEAMS

Nick Collison/Oklahoma City (58-23)

  • Currently No. 2 seed in West

  • Northwest Division champs

Mario Chalmers/Miami (54-27)

  • Currently No. 2 seed in East

  • Southeast Division champs

Thomas Robinson/Portland (53-28)

  • Currently No. 5 seed in West

Kirk Hinrich/Chicago (48-33)

  • Currently No. 4 seed in East

Paul Pierce/Brooklyn (44-37)

  • Currently No. 5 seed in East

Drew Gooden/Washington (43-38)

  • Currently No. 6 seed in East

ELIMINATED FROM PLAYOFFS

Markieff Morris & Marcus Morris/Phoenix (47-34)

Darrell Arthur/Denver (36-45)

Cole Aldrich/New York (36-45)

Jeff Withey/New Orleans (33-48)

Ben McLemore/Sacramento (28-53)

Xavier Henry/L.A. Lakers (26-55)

Brandon Rush/Utah (24-57)


— Keep up with the production of all the 'Hawks in the NBA daily at KUsports.com.

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Paul Pierce joins elite company, with 25,000 career points

Brooklyn Nets' Paul Pierce (34) reacts during the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Atlanta Hawks Friday, April 11, 2014, in New York. Atlanta won 93-88. (AP Photo/Jason DeCrow)

Brooklyn Nets' Paul Pierce (34) reacts during the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Atlanta Hawks Friday, April 11, 2014, in New York. Atlanta won 93-88. (AP Photo/Jason DeCrow)

Ever since Paul Pierce left Kansas University a year early for the NBA in 1998, he has made a living putting up points.

On Friday, the 16-year veteran who earned his reputation with Boston reached an all-time milestone in his first season with Brooklyn.

Only one of Pierce's seven three-pointers connected in a home loss to Atlanta, but the one he hit in the second quarter carried far more significance than a typical regular-season, first-half trey.

This particular long-range bomb pushed Pierce to 25,000 career points.

The NBA compiled all of "The Truth's" landmark points — from 5,000 to 25,000 — in a video that kicks off with a young, headband-less Pierce putting in his first NBA bucket against Toronto in 1999.

Justin Tasch of the New York Daily News reported Pierce's 5-for-14 night and 2-for-6 showing at the free throw line had a lot to do with him thinking too much about the milestone, as his family and friends kept bringing it up beforehand.

“I was the same way when I reached the 20,000-point mark. I remember I couldn’t hit a shot in the first quarter because I was pressing just to get it. I’m just glad it’s over with and now I can focus on the rest of the season.”

The NBA Twitterverse tipped its collective cap to Pierce following the accomplishment.

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Pierce became just the 18th NBA player in history to eclipse 25,000 points. The names ahead of him on the list are pretty incredible, and include such former superstars as Jerry West (17th), John Havlicek (13th), Oscar Robertson (11th), Shaquille O'Neal (6th), Wilt Chamberlain (5th), Michael Jordan (3rd), Karl Malone (2nd) and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (1st, 38,387).

Pierce left Brooklyn's next game, Sunday against Orlando, clutching his right shoulder, but Nets coach Jason Kidd said he could've returned to play if needed.


No more Mr. Nice McLemore?

Sacramento Kings guard Ben McLemore is ejected after being called for a technical foul on Los Angeles Clippers guard J.J. Redick, as Clippers' Jamal Crawford, rear left, looks on during the second half of an NBA basketball game in Los Angeles, Saturday, April 12, 2014. The Clippers won 117-101. (AP Photo/Danny Moloshok)

Sacramento Kings guard Ben McLemore is ejected after being called for a technical foul on Los Angeles Clippers guard J.J. Redick, as Clippers' Jamal Crawford, rear left, looks on during the second half of an NBA basketball game in Los Angeles, Saturday, April 12, 2014. The Clippers won 117-101. (AP Photo/Danny Moloshok)

If you heard a former Jayhawk earned an ejection after shoving an opponent who was defending him, who would you bet on as the culprit?

One of the Morris twins? Thomas Robinson? Mario Chalmers? Pierce?

Well, it happened on Saturday, and the answer was none of the above.

The typically smiling face of Sacramento rookie Ben McLemore showed a scowl in Los Angeles when he didn't like the way the Clippers' J.J. Redick defended him coming off a screen.

McLemore earned a technical foul for losing his temper, and it was actually his second of the game, so he was tossed after scoring 14 points in 32 minutes.

Prior to Saturday, McLemore hadn't even been whistled for a "T," let alone been ejected from a game.

It turns out Sacramento wasn't too pleased with the technicals. And the organization's frustrations weren't directed at its rookie shooting guard. McLemore's superiors thought both technicals were undeserved. Jason Jones of the Sacramento Bee reported the Kings are appealing the "T's" with the league office.

In fact, coach Michael Malone said the Kings couldn't believe one of their quietest players earned an ejection.

“That’s not who Ben is, and that wasn’t his intent.”


'Hawks in the NBA standings

Dallas Mavericks guard Monta Ellis (11) drives to the basket between Phoenix Suns forwards Markieff Morris (11) and Channing Frye (8) during the second half of an NBA basketball game on Saturday, April 12, 2014, in Dallas. The Mavericks won 101-98. (AP Photo/LM Otero)

Dallas Mavericks guard Monta Ellis (11) drives to the basket between Phoenix Suns forwards Markieff Morris (11) and Channing Frye (8) during the second half of an NBA basketball game on Saturday, April 12, 2014, in Dallas. The Mavericks won 101-98. (AP Photo/LM Otero)

Phoenix — home of former Kansas standouts Markieff and Marcus Morris — entered Friday in the No. 7 slot in the Western Conference playoff race, as one of four teams jockeying for the final three available postseason spots.

But back-to-back losses at San Antonio and Dallas (the Mavericks were one of the four teams vying for the last available playoff spots) has Phoenix in a bit of a predicament with just two games left in the regular season.

Golden State and Dallas now have secured their tickets to the postseason, leaving the Suns (47-33) and Memphis (48-32) as the last two fighting for the final spot.

Phoenix hosts the Grizzlies Monday night, but a head-to-head victory alone won't assure the Suns of anything — as detailed by Paul Coro for azcentral.com.

Phoenix must beat Memphis and win at Sacramento in the regular-season finale Wednesday. Plus, the Grizzlies must lose at Dallas on Wednesday. That's the only scenario in which the Suns, whom no one expected to be in this position before the season, will advance to the playoffs.

Said Markieff:

"The season isn't over yet. We don't have any choice but to keep hope."

This is subject to change, with three days worth of games to be played, but here's what the matchups would look like if the playoffs began today, instead of this weekend.

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Only three days remain in the 82-game marathon that is the regular season, so here's a look at where all of the NBA's Jayhawks stand in the hunt for the playoffs.

We'll rank the Kansas products according to their franchise's record.

No. 1 — Nick Collison/Oklahoma City (58-22)

  • Currently No. 2 seed in West

  • Clinched Northwest Division title/playoff berth

No. 2 — Mario Chalmers/Miami (54-26)

  • Currently No. 2 seed in East

  • Clinched Southeast Division title/playoff berth

No. 3 — Thomas Robinson/Portland (53-28)

  • Currently No. 5 seed in West

  • Clinched playoff berth

No. 4 — Kirk Hinrich/Chicago (47-33)

  • Currently No. 4 seed in East

  • Clinched playoff berth

No. 5 — Markieff Morris & Marcus Morris/Phoenix (47-33)

  • Currently No. 9 in West, one game back of Memphis

No. 6 — Paul Pierce/Brooklyn (44-36)

  • Currently No. 5 seed in East

  • Clinched playoff berth

No. 7 — Drew Gooden/Washington (42-38)

  • Currently No. 6 seed in East

  • Clinched playoff berth

No. 8 — Darrell Arthur/Denver (36-44)

  • Eliminated from playoff contention in West

No. 9 — Cole Aldrich/New York (35-45)

  • Eliminated from playoff contention in East

No. 10 — Jeff Withey/New Orleans (32-48)

  • Eliminated from playoff contention in West

No. 11 — Ben McLemore/Sacramento (28-53)

  • Eliminated from playoff contention in West

No. 12 — Xavier Henry/L.A. Lakers (25-55)

  • Eliminated from playoff contention in West

No. 13 — Brandon Rush/Utah (24-56)

  • Eliminated from playoff contention in West

— Keep up with the production of all the 'Hawks in the NBA daily at KUsports.com.

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Collison’s decade of dirty work makes him indispensable in OKC

All the NBA talk around Lawrence the past few days has centered on Kansas University freshmen and their decisions — Andrew Wiggins is officially entering the draft, and everyone is waiting to hear if Joel Embiid will do the same.

This time next year, we might be debating whether Wiggins or Embiid deserve to win the NBA's Rookie of the Year.

But for now, with the 2013-14 NBA season winding down, we'll check in with a couple of veterans and a current rookie.


Mr. Reliable

Los Angeles Lakers center Pau Gasol fights for a loose ball against Oklahoma City Thunder power forward Nick Collison during the second half of an NBA basketball game in Los Angeles, Sunday, March 9, 2014. The Lakers won 114-110. (AP Photo/Danny Moloshok)

Los Angeles Lakers center Pau Gasol fights for a loose ball against Oklahoma City Thunder power forward Nick Collison during the second half of an NBA basketball game in Los Angeles, Sunday, March 9, 2014. The Lakers won 114-110. (AP Photo/Danny Moloshok)

When your career averages are 6.6 points and 5.7 rebounds, you have to be doing something right to stick around in the NBA for a decade.

For 10th-year power forward Nick Collison — selected 12th overall by the Seattle Supersonics in the loaded 2003 draft —becoming the ultimate role player enticed the franchise that picked him (Seattle relocated to Oklahoma City and changed its name to the Thunder following the 2007-08 season) to keep him around.

As Darnell Mayberry points out in his profile on Collison for The Oklahoman, the veteran out of Kansas is one of those rare NBA players who have spent the past 10 seasons with the same franchise.

FYI, some of those other names are: Kobe Bryant, Tim Duncan, Dirk Nowitzki and Dwyane Wade.

Collison told Mayberry:

“I know it’s really rare for somebody to be able to stick that long. And now, to be successful at the end part of it, too, to build up to being a really good team at the end, that’s how I would want it to go.”

The reliable backup big man averages just 4.2 points and 3.7 rebounds in 17.0 minutes a game for OKC (54-19), but general manager Sam Presti calls him a "founding member" of the Thunder, along with superstars Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook.

“He represents the type of player that we want to ultimately have our organization embody,” Presti told Mayberry.

Between charges, screens, hustle plays, easy second-chance buckets, and defensive stops, you can see why the Thunder have kept Collison around.

And why he has become a fan favorite. Here's what Collison said to Mayberry on that subject:

“I feel like they really appreciate what I do, and I know that’s rare for a player like me. A role player like me who averages four (points) and four (rebounds) or whatever it is, no one really thinks twice about him. But I know that I have kind of a special place here. So I really appreciate that.”

The Thunder currently hold the No. 2 seed in the Western Conference and are one of the favorites to win the 2014 NBA title.


Finishing strong

Sacramento Kings guard Ben McLemore (16) shoots between Oklahoma City Thunder guard Derek Fisher (6) and guard Jeremy Lamb (11) during the fourth quarter of an NBA basketball game in Oklahoma City, Friday, March 28, 2014. Oklahoma City won 94-81. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)

Sacramento Kings guard Ben McLemore (16) shoots between Oklahoma City Thunder guard Derek Fisher (6) and guard Jeremy Lamb (11) during the fourth quarter of an NBA basketball game in Oklahoma City, Friday, March 28, 2014. Oklahoma City won 94-81. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)

It would be a stretch to say Ben McLemore's rookie season in Sacramento has been a complete success.

Even though the Kings have shown their commitment to the young guard, he hasn't separated himself as one of the league's very best first-year players.

Still, Jason Jones of the Sacramento Bee wrote that the youngster out of Kansas is settling in to his position as the Kings' starting shooting guard.

Sacramento spent the opening months of the season bringing the rookie along slowly, but McLemore told Jones his confidence began to grow after the franchise dealt starter Marcus Thornton, opening a spot in the starting rotation for the former Jayhawk.

“It’s an opportunity for me. Why not take it? That’s what I did, and I just want to keep doing that. I’m not finished. I just want to keep working and finish this season out strong and in the offseason work on my weaknesses.”

The best news for McLemore and Sacramento? He is starting to take his game to another level in the closing weeks of the season.

In his previous 10 games, the rook with huge upside averaged 11.8 points, while hitting 40.9% of his shots and 33.3% of his 3-pointers. Those numbers get even better in his past five outings: 14.6 points, 41.3% field goals and 42.9% 3-pointers. Compare those numbers to his season averages of 8.2 points, 37.3% shooting and 32% from 3-point range.

Monday night at New Orleans, McLemore scored 14 points and grabbed five rebounds (he has only averaged 2.8 boards on the year).

In Jones' feature on the developing shooting guard, Kings coach Michael Malone said McLemore knows these late-season games with Sacramento (26-48) are his chance to shine.

“He’s just kind of relaxing, stopped putting so much pressure on himself where he feels he has to make every shot, and he’s just going out there and playing,. And he’s taking the shot and shooting it with great confidence.”


Hungry for minutes?

Utah Jazz guard Brandon Rush (25) shoots against San Antonio Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Wednesday, Jan. 15, 2014, in San Antonio. San Antonio won 109-105. (AP Photo/Darren Abate)

Utah Jazz guard Brandon Rush (25) shoots against San Antonio Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Wednesday, Jan. 15, 2014, in San Antonio. San Antonio won 109-105. (AP Photo/Darren Abate)

When you're an NBA veteran at the end of a team's bench, often picking up the dreaded DNP in the box score, it has to get under your skin.

Utah shooting guard Brandon Rush is living out that reality. He has played in 38 games, and averaged a minuscule 2.1 points and 1.2 rebounds in 11.0 minutes a game — far below his career averages of 8.3 points and 3.3 rebounds in 24.9 minutes.

So Rush will have to forgive Desert News reporter Jody Genessy if he truly misinterpreted this tweet from the sixth-year pro following another DNP against Memphis last week.

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Genessy asked Rush about the meaning of his four-word declaration a few days later. Rush told the reporter he was communicating with a cousin in that particular message.

But Rush admitted to Genessy that this season with Utah (23-52) has been "a little frustrating."

“It’s been up and down. It’s not what I expected. But I just fight through it and continue to try to get better, try to get this knee right for summertime. It happens.”

As noted by Genessy, Rush missed basically all of 2012-13 due to an ACL injury.

He'll be a free agent at the end of this season. And you don't have to read into Rush's tweets to figure out he won't be in Utah's training camp next fall.


'Hawks in the NBA standings

Only a couple of weeks remain in the regular season, so here's a look at where all of the NBA's Jayhawks stand in the hunt for the playoffs.

We'll rank the Kansas products according to their franchise's record.

No. 1 — Nick Collison/Oklahoma City (54-19)

  • Currently No. 2 seed in West

  • Clinched playoff berth

No. 2 — Mario Chalmers/Miami (51-22)

  • Currently No. 1 seed in East

  • Clinched Southeast Division title/playoff berth

No. 3 — Thomas Robinson/Portland (48-27)

  • Currently No. 5 seed in West

No. 4 — Markieff Morris & Marcus Morris/Phoenix (44-30)

  • Currently 9th in West, with the same record as No. 8 Memphis

No. 5 — Kirk Hinrich/Chicago (42-32)

  • Currently No. 4 seed in East

  • Clinched playoff berth

No. 6 — Paul Pierce/Brooklyn (39-33)

  • Currently No. 5 seed in East

No. 7 — Drew Gooden/Washington (38-36)

  • Currently No. 6 seed in East

No. 8 — Darrell Arthur/Denver (32-42)

  • Eliminated from playoff contention in West

No. 9 — Jeff Withey/New Orleans (32-42)

  • Eliminated from playoff contention in West

No. 10 — Cole Aldrich/New York (32-43)

  • Currently 9th in East, 1 game back of No. 8 Atlanta

No. 11 — Ben McLemore/Sacramento (26-48)

  • Eliminated from playoff contention in West

No. 12 — Xavier Henry/L.A. Lakers (25-48)

  • Eliminated from playoff contention in West

No. 13 — Brandon Rush/Utah (23-52)

  • Eliminated from playoff contention in West

— Keep up with the production of all the 'Hawks in the NBA daily at KUsports.com.

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They’re not booing in D.C., they’re saying ‘Drew’

Now that March Madness — and Stanford — brought a premature end to Kansas University's basketball season, all Jayhawks fans can do is sit around watching their Twitter feeds to see whether Joel Embiid will announce his intentions for next season, as in: Will he play at KU or in the NBA?

The good news? You can fill some of your KU hoops void with 'Hawks in the NBA.


Guess who's back

Washington Wizards forward Drew Gooden puts up a shot as Los Angeles Lakers forward Jordan Hill defends during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Friday, March 21, 2014, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

Washington Wizards forward Drew Gooden puts up a shot as Los Angeles Lakers forward Jordan Hill defends during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Friday, March 21, 2014, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

It's been about a month since our last 'Hawks entry here at KUsports.com, and probably the biggest news in that span was the return of Drew Gooden to the Association.

The bearded, No. 90-wearing veteran — out of the league since getting cut by Milwaukee last summer — joined the Washington Wizards. Initially, the Wiz signed Gooden to a 10-day contract, but he quickly proved his worth, and is under contract for the remainder of the season.

Washington no longer operates as one of the league's laughing stocks. So you'll get a chance to see Gooden in the playoffs. Entering Friday's games, the Wizards (36-35) held the No. 6 spot in the Eastern Conference, and it would take a significant collapse for them to fall out of the top eight.

Gooden came along slowly, with two scoreless games in very limited minutes to begin his stint in D.C. But when he gets minutes, he puts up points. Now in his 12th — though abbreviated — season, the 6-foot-10 veteran came through with a 21-point, nine-rebound outing in a key conference win over Brooklyn two weeks ago.

He has played in just 13 games, went scoreless in three of them (playing single-digit minutes on each occasion) and still averages 10.2 points and 5.7 rebounds in 17.5 minutes a game.

Gooden did get fined $15,000 for a flagrant foul, but mostly his return has worked out for him and Washington.

In a Sam Amick story for USA Today, the former Jayhawk said getting overlooked by the league when he could've signed with any team before the 2013-14 campaign has fueled his late-season addition in D.C.

"I've got a vendetta right now against all the other teams that overlooked me. I wanted to show them once I got an opportunity that I've got a passion and I love this game, and I wasn't going to go and leave my career like it was left last season in Milwaukee."

In his career, Gooden has played for 10 of the league's 30 franchises: Orlando, Memphis, Cleveland, Chicago, Sacramento, San Antonio, Dallas, the Los Angeles Clippers, Milwaukee and Washington.


McLemore reflects on highs and lows of rookie year

Sacramento Kings guard Ben McLemore, right, drives to the basket against New York Knicks defender Tim Hardaway Jr. left, during the second half of an NBA basketball game in Sacramento, Calif., on Wednesday, March 26, 2014.The Knicks won 107-99.(AP Photo/Steve Yeater)

Sacramento Kings guard Ben McLemore, right, drives to the basket against New York Knicks defender Tim Hardaway Jr. left, during the second half of an NBA basketball game in Sacramento, Calif., on Wednesday, March 26, 2014.The Knicks won 107-99.(AP Photo/Steve Yeater)

Since arriving in Sacramento as the Kings' No. 7 overall pick in the 2013 draft, Ben McLemore hasn't exactly set the NBA on fire. The 6-foot-5 shooting guard out of Kansas has averaged 8.0 points, 2.8 rebounds, made 37.2% of his shots and 31.7% of his 3-pointers.

McLemore sat down with James Ham at the Cowbell Kingdom blog for a Q & A this week. Here are a few of the more interesting comments from the rookie, who is constantly learning and adapting in the league.

The reporter asked McLemore what it was like to see Andrew Wiggins and Embiid playing for KU, knowing he could've played with them as a sophomore if he didn't leave for the NBA:

"You’re right, I could have been out there playing with those guys and just having fun playing Kansas basketball with those guys. But at the same time, I made a great decision to come to the NBA. I definitely don’t regret that. I have a great opportunity right now in a great situation."

McLemore also discussed his life-changing NBA contract, which took him from having very little money to a whole lot.

"I think it’s been great. I really haven’t had a problem. My family – as long as my mom, my sisters and brothers are fine, that’s the people I’m looking out for. I’ve got a lot of family and they know my situation and they understand that I did this and I’ve worked hard to get in this position."

McLemore said he will be back in Kansas this summer, taking classes.

"It’s very important because I want to get my degree. I was the first one out of my family to go to a university and I would be the first to have a degree. To look back and tell my kids that their dad got his degree in college, to tell them that this is important, that school is important. And my mom would be proud. She’d be even more proud if I got my degree."

Read the entire interview at CowbellKingdom.com.

Sacramento (25-46) is out of the playoff hunt in the Western Conference.


Hinrich, Bulls keep plugging away

Chicago Bulls shooting guard Kirk Hinrich (12) shoots past San Antonio Spurs point guard Tony Parker (9) during the second half of an NBA basketball game on Tuesday, March 11, 2014, in Chicago. The San Antonio Spurs defeated The Chicago Bulls 104-96. (AP Photo/Andrew A. Nelles)

Chicago Bulls shooting guard Kirk Hinrich (12) shoots past San Antonio Spurs point guard Tony Parker (9) during the second half of an NBA basketball game on Tuesday, March 11, 2014, in Chicago. The San Antonio Spurs defeated The Chicago Bulls 104-96. (AP Photo/Andrew A. Nelles)

Even though Chicago lost former league MVP Derrick Rose for the season due to a torn right meniscus, the Bulls have remained one of the top teams in the East.

Eleventh-year NBA veteran Kirk Hinrich has played a key role in Chicago's remarkably steady season, starting 50 of the Bulls' 62 games, and averaging 9.0 points and 3.9 assists.

After Hinrich's 18-point night helped Chicago beat the East's top team, Indiana, earlier this week, Sam Smith of bulls.com wrote that the former Kansas guard reflects the hard work of the Bulls, even though he might get overlooked.

As the article touches on, Hinrich hasn't had a stellar shooting season (39% field goals, 35% 3-pointers). He told Smith:

“The hard thing is when it’s not going in and you are not making it to stay confident and looking for your shot. But I feel I’ve done a better job (the last few months). I feel I’ve turned a corner in that regard.”

Chicago (40-31) currently holds the No. 4 seed in the East.


X, man

Milwaukee Bucks' Giannis Antetokounmpo can not stop Los Angeles Lakers' Xavier Henry from dunking the ball during the first half of an NBA basketball game Thursday, March 27, 2014, in Milwaukee. (AP Photo/Tom Lynn)

Milwaukee Bucks' Giannis Antetokounmpo can not stop Los Angeles Lakers' Xavier Henry from dunking the ball during the first half of an NBA basketball game Thursday, March 27, 2014, in Milwaukee. (AP Photo/Tom Lynn)

Xavier Henry had to hit the pause button on the best season of his career when he was diagnosed with an abnormality of the lateral meniscus in his right knee.

After missing all of January and February, Henry (10.3 points per game, 42.2% shooting) returned to the Los Angeles Lakers' lineup in March, and has played in 11 of L.A.'s 12 games since then.

He dropped 24 points on San Antonio on March 19 in a loss, and later scored 22 on 8-of-11 shooting in a win against the Knicks earlier this week.

As you can see, the knee is doing just fine.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qq9NIzopEEY

Still, as Mark Medina wrote for the Los Angeles Daily News, teammates both admire and worry about the explosive Henry.

Fearless attacks on the rim have proven to be the norm for Henry, who hurt his left wrist doing so after returning from his knee injury. So the Lakers try to convince him to take it easy.

Here's what Henry told Medina of his teammates' conversations:

“All the time they tell me I’m crazy. They say, ‘What are you doing this for? You have nothing to prove.’ I have something to prove to myself. I’m not quitting. I’m not going to take a step back.”


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Expect more McLemore in Sacramento

Sacramento Kings guard Ben McLemore, left, and Toronto Raptors guard DeMar DeRozan scrambler for the ball during the fourth quarter of an NBA basketball game in Sacramento, Calif., Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2014. The Kings won 109-101.(AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)

Sacramento Kings guard Ben McLemore, left, and Toronto Raptors guard DeMar DeRozan scrambler for the ball during the fourth quarter of an NBA basketball game in Sacramento, Calif., Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2014. The Kings won 109-101.(AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli) by Rich Pedroncelli, AP

If the Sacramento Kings have their way, they will find out before the season ends exactly what rookie shooting guard Ben McLemore can do for their franchise.

Both words and actions from the organization this week displayed Sacramento's interest in keeping the 21-year-old around long enough to see his full potential.

As reported by Jason Jones of the Sacramento Bee, the Kings showed their belief in the rookie out of Kansas, not only by openly dispelling trade rumors (a prominent one had McLemore as part of a package to land Boston point guard Rajon Rondo), but also dealing away Marcus Thornton, who had been the team's starting shooting guard.

Thornton's former spot in the lineup is McLemore's now, and clearly management wants to see what he does with it.

The Kings (18-36), last in the Pacific Division out West, aren't going to make the playoffs. So Sacramento coach Michael Malone will be watching closely during the next couple of months:

“My main thing moving forward is Ben McLemore,” Malone said before Wednesday’s game. “And that’s no disrespect to anybody, but we drafted Ben seventh, and it’s been an up-and-down season for him at times. But with these last 29 games, there’s no pressure on this team. I want us to play together, I want us to play the right way. I want us to have fun, and I also want to have a great opportunity to see Ben, Ray (McCallum), Carl (Landry) and Derrick (Williams). Especially to see what they’re able to do with the last 29 games.”

In McLemore's return to the starting lineup Wednesday against Golden State (he started 26 games earlier this season), he found himself in some foul trouble, only played 19 minutes and went 1-for-4 from the floor with four points and four rebounds.

In 54 games, the 6-foot-5 rookie has averaged 23.2 minutes, 7.5 points, 2.8 rebounds and hit 36.5% of his shots, 33.3% of his three-pointers and 78.6% of his free throws.

Blake Ellington at SactownRoyalty.com breaks down some of McLemore's issues on the floor, which have included "disappearing" for long stretches, playing passively and lacking consistency on his jumper.

Also, defense.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WGnNbRspFH0

(Disclaimer: Steph Curry does that to lots of people.)

The rookie's next opportunity to prove he should be part of Sacramento's core for the future comes Saturday night against Boston — the game can be seen on NBATV, at 9 p.m.

For more on McLemore, listen to an interview he did with Fescoe in the Morning, on 610 Sports Radio.

McLemore's interview begins at about the 32-minute mark and he talks about adjusting to the NBA, the slam dunk contest at All-Star Weekend, hearing about trade rumors and taking the next step in his career.

Taylor reportedly done with D-League

In 'Hawks no longer in the NBA news:

Roughly a month after Brooklyn traded him and New Orleans waived him, it appears Tyshawn Taylor is through with the D-League for this season.

Taylor had signed with the Maine Red Claws, and only scored five points in his last outing on Wednesday night.

The next day, news began to pop up on Twitter about Taylor signing with a club in Puerto Rico.

None by Adam Zagoria

In eight D-League games this season, Taylor averaged 9.6 points and 3.4 rebounds.

He averaged 3.9 points and 1.6 assists in 11.7 minutes a game for Brooklyn.


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All hail the king of dunk contest theatrics, Ben McLemore

Ben McLemore of the Sacramento Kings dunks the ball as he flies over former NBA player Shaquille O'Neal during the skills competition at the NBA All Star basketball game, Saturday, Feb. 15, 2014, in New Orleans. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

Ben McLemore of the Sacramento Kings dunks the ball as he flies over former NBA player Shaquille O'Neal during the skills competition at the NBA All Star basketball game, Saturday, Feb. 15, 2014, in New Orleans. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert) by Gerald Herbert

Ben McLemore didn't win the slam dunk contest Saturday night in New Orleans — Dunker of the Night went to Washington's John Wall — but it wasn't due to a lack of theatrics or superb athleticism from the high-flying shooting guard.

The Sacramento Kings rookie, the only former Kansas player involved in the NBA's All-Star Weekend festivities, had the arena and Twitter abuzz when, accompanied by Shaquille O'Neal and wearing a regal robe, he paraded toward the court, where a throne sat conspicuously in the paint.

As Ailene Voisin of the Sacramento Bee put it, "Ben McLemore gave one of the more theatrical performances in Kings history."

Eventually, after the showy intro, McLemore got down to business — or would it be up to business in this case? — by leaping over the throne, occupied by Kings minority investor Shaq, and throwing down an impressive slam.

I don't know if TNT still uses the slogan, "We know drama," but clearly the combo we shall now refer to as Shaq-Lemore were happy to bring a flair for the dramatic to the broadcast.

Whether you love or hate all the spectacle, it was quite a dunk, and as Kenny Smith said during the broadcast, probably actually more difficult than Blake Griffin's dunk over the hood of a car a few years back.

Here is McLemore's crowning moment in epic, super-slow-mo mode:

“I was robbed,” McLemore joked to the Bee's Voisin, laughing. “I dunked over a chair and a 7-footer! That was creative. It was a great dunk.”


Before the main attraction, McLemore and his fellow Western Conference teammates, Golden State's Harrison Barnes and Portland's Damian Lillard, performed a series of jams in the freestyle round.

Prior to the contest, it turns out the man known as "The Human Highlight Reel," Dominique Wilkins, said McLemore was his sleeper pick. And Nique won the event twice, famously battling Michael Jordan on more than one occasion.

“That kid has a lot of bounce,” Wilkins said in a column by Voisin for the Bee. “I like his chances.”

The Kings rookie didn't have to go far for some dunk contest advice, either. Sacramento's player development director is Dee Brown, who won the all-star weekend showcase in 1991.

Voisin wrote that Brown often has worked with McLemore on another part of his game after practices, too. McLemore has "small and slender" hands and often struggles to maintain his grip.

So Brown had more to offer than, "Hey, kid. Just cover your eyes when you dunk."

As you can tell from McLemore's Twitter account, he was stoked to be a part of All-Star Weekend.

None by Ben McLemore

None by Ben McLemore

None by Ben McLemore

None by Ben McLemore

None by Ben McLemore

To wrap things up, here are some pretty cool photos the Kings tweeted out from the competition.

None by Sacramento Kings

None by Sacramento Kings

None by Sacramento Kings

Finally, check out a compilation of McLemore's best in-game dunks from his still young and promising career.


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Cleared for takeoff: Ben McLemore to compete in All-Star Weekend dunk contest

Sacramento Kings' Ben McLemore (16) shoots in the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Miami Heat, Friday, Dec. 20, 2013, in Miami. The Heat defeated the Kings 122-103. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

Sacramento Kings' Ben McLemore (16) shoots in the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Miami Heat, Friday, Dec. 20, 2013, in Miami. The Heat defeated the Kings 122-103. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

Look. Everybody could see this was coming. All the revealing signs were there:

  • Ben McLemore kept acting flighty.

  • Even worse, frankly, the Sacramento rookie routinely treated his guests rudely, openly humiliating them.

  • Can you believe the gall of this guy? I mean, the things he has done are vulgar.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MtPq-MCa4HU

Well, finally McLemore got what he deserved. The NBA announced on Thursday that the 6-foot-5 rookie shooting guard (who was snubbed for the Rising Stars Challenge) will be a part of All-Star Weekend after all — as one of six participants in the Sprite Slam Dunk contest.

McLemore has some serious competition this year. Sometimes these made-for-TV dunk shows are unwatchable. But that won't be the case on Feb. 15 in New Orleans.

The high-flying former Jayahawk will go up against Paul George of the Indiana Pacers, John Wall of the Washington Wizards, Harrison Barnes of the Golden State Warriors, Damian Lillard of the Portland Trail Blazers and defending dunk contest champion Terrence Ross of the Toronto Raptors.

Get a glimpse of McLemore's competition here: The Definitive Guide to the 2014 NBA Dunk Contest (courtesy of USA Today's For The Win).

A young and dynamic finisher, and the first KU product to participate in the NBA slam dunk contest, McLemore obviously can't wait for the chance to show off some of his fierce slams with the entire league watching — not exactly the case for most Sacramento games.

None by Ben McLemore

Here are a few more looks at what 20-year-old aerial artist has to offer:


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Improving Ben McLemore snubbed for All-Star Weekend showcase

Sacramento Kings guard Ben McLemore, center, drives to the basket against Memphis Grizzlies forward James Johnson, right, during the third quarter of an NBA basketball game in Sacramento, Calif., Wednesday, Jan. 29, 2014. The Grizzlies won 99-89.(AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)

Sacramento Kings guard Ben McLemore, center, drives to the basket against Memphis Grizzlies forward James Johnson, right, during the third quarter of an NBA basketball game in Sacramento, Calif., Wednesday, Jan. 29, 2014. The Grizzlies won 99-89.(AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)

By all accounts, Sacramento rookie guard Ben McLemore is doing all he can to become a better NBA player.

Earlier this week, the Sacramento Bee's Jason Jones had a story on that very subject. Even on days off — when players have the freedom to do whatever they please — McLemore hits the weights and works on his game.

McLemore spoke with Jones about some of the aspects of his game that he tries to address:

“I was telling coach (Chris) Jent and coach Dee (Brown) the things we’ve been working on I’ve been perfecting out there on the court,” McLemore said. “I’m more comfortable dribbling the ball, coming off screens and handling it and creating shots for myself. I’m definitely comfortable and I want to continue to grow.”


He put some of those skills to use earlier this week, on his way to 18 points against Denver.

Despite his development, McLemore wasn't one of the nine NBA rookies chosen to participate in the Rising Stars Challenge, a showcase game for first- and second-year players at the NBA's upcoming All-Star Weekend, in New Orleans.

McLemore averages 7.9 points and 2.8 rebounds through 45 games this season for the Kings. He's shooting 36.8 percent from the floor. Below is his shot chart. (Red is below the NBA average for that area of the floor, yellow is about average and green is above average.)

2013-14 Ben McLemore shot chart, through Jan. 30, 2014.

2013-14 Ben McLemore shot chart, through Jan. 30, 2014.

Here's the weird thing about McLemore's omission: he is fifth among NBA rookies in scoring. The only first-year players averaging more than the Sacramento shooting guard are Philadelphia's Michael Carter-Williams, Orlando's Victor Oladipo, Utah's Trey Burke and New York's Tim Hardaway Jr. All five of them made the cut. (Go to BleacherReport.com for a full list of Rising Stars Challenge participants.)

Surely, McLemore must be disappointed about the snub. But the rook seems wise beyond his years in his response to the selections.

None by Ben McLemore


Taylor signs on with D-League's Red Claws

Cut by the New Orleans Pelicans last week, Tyshawn Taylor has a new home.

It's just not in the NBA. The D-League's Maine Red Claws announced Thursday they signed the guard out of Kansas and he's expected to join the team on Sunday.

The Red Claws are an affiliate of the Boston Celtics.

Whether Taylor proves himself worthy of a spot in the NBA in the next couple of months — with Boston or another team — remains to be seen. We'll find out in the weeks to come how he responds to a new situation — and one he likely didn't anticipate being in at this point of the season.


Arthur returns to Nuggets lineup

Charlotte Bobcats center Cody Zeller, left, stops Denver Nuggets forward Darrell Arthur as he works the ball inside for a shot in the first quarter of an NBA basketball game in Denver on Wednesday, Jan. 29, 2014. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

Charlotte Bobcats center Cody Zeller, left, stops Denver Nuggets forward Darrell Arthur as he works the ball inside for a shot in the first quarter of an NBA basketball game in Denver on Wednesday, Jan. 29, 2014. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

The man known around KU basketball as "Shady" got back on the floor this week for Denver. Darrell Arthur had missed seven games with a strained hip, and played for the first time since Jan. 11 on Wednesday against Charlotte.

Arthur played 17 minutes in his typical role, off the bench, and surpassed his season average (5.7 a game) with seven points for Denver.

The 6-foot-9 forward even buried a three-pointer in the final minute to get the Nuggets within a point, but the Bobcats went on to win.


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Markieff Morris ejected; now has eight technicals

Phoenix Suns' Markieff Morris (11) is defended by New York Knicks' Amar'e Stoudemire (1) during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Monday, Jan. 13, 2014, in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

Phoenix Suns' Markieff Morris (11) is defended by New York Knicks' Amar'e Stoudemire (1) during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Monday, Jan. 13, 2014, in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

It's been a rough couple of days in The Association for the Phoenix Suns' Markieff Morris.

First, the typically versatile big man went scoreless in a Saturday loss at Detroit.

Then on Monday at Madison Square Garden, Markieff got tossed from the Suns' game against the New York Knicks after earning his second technical foul in the second quarter.

As reported by Andrew Gilstrap at ArizonaSports.com, the first "T" came early in the second, when Kieff objected to a traveling call.

A few minutes later, after Kieff drew a foul on JR Smith while going up for a dunk attempt, he didn't like the way Smith invaded his personal space and threw Smith's arm off of him.

In case you're counting — by the way, the NBA is, because the league suspends players once they reach 16 technical fouls in a season — Markieff is halfway there, with eight.

If he keeps it up, Markieff might catch up with league leader DeMarcis Cousins, of Sacramento. Kieff's eight "T's" currently tie him for second in the NBA with the Los Angeles Clippers' Blake Griffin. Cousins leads the way with 10.


Hinrich highlight

Chicago Bulls guard Kirk Hinrich (12) drives past Washington Wizards guard John Wall, left, as Joakim Noah (13) watches during the first half of an NBA basketball game Monday, Jan. 13, 2014, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)

Chicago Bulls guard Kirk Hinrich (12) drives past Washington Wizards guard John Wall, left, as Joakim Noah (13) watches during the first half of an NBA basketball game Monday, Jan. 13, 2014, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)

Hey, not every former Jayhawk had a lousy Monday night. Well … actually no one was that great, either.

But, hey! Kirk Hinrich made SportCenter's Top 10. Now, given that Hinrich plays basketball and Top-10 plays usually involve monster throw-downs, you can probably guess Hinrich did something else to earn some extra TV time. I mean, it's not like Chicago Bulls fans are calling him Air Hinrich, or anything close to that.

The always heady point guard improvised on the fly against Washington, realizing mid-air, upon receiving a pass, that his best move was to keep the ball moving to an open shooter, Jimmy Butler. To add a little flair, Hinrich threw the pass behind his back.

Check it out:


McLemore looks to succeed in bench role

Sacramento Kings shooting guard Ben McLemore (16) battles Atlanta Hawks power forward Paul Millsap on a jump-ball in the first half of an NBA basketball game on Wednesday, Dec. 18, 2013, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

Sacramento Kings shooting guard Ben McLemore (16) battles Atlanta Hawks power forward Paul Millsap on a jump-ball in the first half of an NBA basketball game on Wednesday, Dec. 18, 2013, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

Sacramento rookie Ben McLemore recently learned playing time is far from a guarantee in the NBA. After starting 26 games for the Kings, coach Michael Malone decided to move the high-flying rookie to the bench following a slump.

Jonathan Santiago, at the Cowbell Kingdom blog, offers some insightful quotes on the situation.

“I think he’s pretty confident,” Malone said (last) week of McLemore. “But when you put maybe five to six games together where you’re not getting many looks, your shot’s not going in and then you’re playing against some of the two guards out here in the west and in the NBA as a whole, it’s a handful every night."

The Cowbell Kingdom piece also provided McLemore's take on adjusting to playing as a reserve.

“Same mentality,” McLemore said. “Just going out there, giving my all, doing whatever coach wants me to do offensively and defensively and just going out there and do some things to help my teammates and help the team win the game.”

Skip ahead to about the 0:15 mark of the below clip to see McLemore take out whatever frustrations he has with the situation on the rim.

In his last 10 games, McLemore has reached double figures just once, scoring 13 points on New Year's Eve against Houston.


Injury roundup

  • Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun Sentinel reports Mario Chalmers, who has missed three games with Achilles tendinitis, should be back in the Miami Heat's lineup tonight at Washington

  • L.A. Times Lakers beat writer Mike Bresnahan provided an update on Xavier Henry:



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Hinrich’s days in Chicago could be numbered

Chicago Bulls guard Kirk Hinrich, center, looks to pass as Atlanta Hawks forward Paul Millsap, left, and guard Jeff Teague guard during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Chicago on Saturday, Jan. 4, 2014. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

Chicago Bulls guard Kirk Hinrich, center, looks to pass as Atlanta Hawks forward Paul Millsap, left, and guard Jeff Teague guard during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Chicago on Saturday, Jan. 4, 2014. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

Currently in his second go-round as a Chicago Bull, and a former member of the Washington Wizards and Atlanta Hawks, 10-year NBA veteran Kirk Hinrich could soon be playing in the Western Conference for the first time in his career.

According to USA Today’s Sam Amick, the Bulls could move Hinrich as they continue to deal with the absence of franchise point guard Derrick Rose and, simultaneously, make cost-saving decisions with their roster.

Speculation surrounding a Hinrich trade grew once Chicago dealt Luol Deng, one of its core members. As Amick reported, the Golden State Warriors could be Hinrich’s new home:

“... it appears point guard Kirk Hinrich will be drawing the most immediate interest when it comes to the Bulls' possible next move. According to a person with knowledge of the situation, the Golden State Warriors are among teams that had been showing serious interest in Hinrich long before the Deng trade.”

Considering the state of affairs in Chicago (15-18) – no Rose, no Deng, no way the Bulls will be able to contend in the East – joining the Warriors (24-13) could be an ideal situation for the Kansas legend.

Hinrich, of course, wouldn’t start for Golden State. But the Warriors essentially have no backup point guard, with Toney Douglas playing just 11.7 minutes a game. If Golden State is able to acquire Hinrich, coach Mark Jackson would surely have him in the backcourt with either of the Warriors’ budding stars, Steph Curry or Klay Thompson (aka The Splash Brothers, who have combined to make 219 three-pointers so far), for long stretches.

Goggled and gritty, Hinrich (7.8 points, 4.7 assists this season) might not have the flash of his potential backcourt mates, but he could certainly facilitate and give the Warriors another ball handler.

Stay tuned, and let us know in the comments section if you would like to see Hinrich join one of the most entertaining teams in the league.


McLemore back on the bench

Sacramento Kings guard Ben McLemore (16) shotts against the Charlotte Bobcats during the second half of an NBA basketball game in Sacramento, Calif., on Saturday, Jan. 4, 2014. The Bobcats beat the Kings 113-103.(AP Photo/Steve Yeater)

Sacramento Kings guard Ben McLemore (16) shotts against the Charlotte Bobcats during the second half of an NBA basketball game in Sacramento, Calif., on Saturday, Jan. 4, 2014. The Bobcats beat the Kings 113-103.(AP Photo/Steve Yeater)

In our last edition of ‘Hawks in the NBA, we told you about the often cited comparison of Sacramento rookie Ben McLemore to renowned sniper Ray Allen, currently of the Miami Heat.

Well, the 17-year veteran Allen has spent most of his renowned career as a starter, until becoming a backup when he joined the Heat.

McLemore, who had started 26 games for Sacramento (11-22), returned to a bench role Tuesday for the Kings’ 123-119 home win over one of the West’s top teams, Portland (26-9).

After the victory, Jason Jones, of the Sacramento Bee, reported that Marcus Thornton will start instead of McLemore for the “foreseeable future," according to Kings coach Michael Malone:

“This is a not a demotion for Ben McLemore,” Malone said. “This is not us losing confidence or faith in him. Ben’s been struggling and I wanted to put him in a position where maybe he could have more success coming off the bench.”

Malone said with the Kings having three volume shooters in the starting lineup, he’ll need Thornton and Jason Thompson to serve as facilitators and “ball movers” with the starting five.

Kings part-owner Shaquille O’Neal has other ideas about what’s next for McLemore:

Good call, Shaq.


Pierce climbing NBA career scoring ladder

Brooklyn Nets forward Paul Pierce (34) shoots in front of Oklahoma City Thunder guard Jeremy Lamb (11) during an NBA basketball game between the Brooklyn Nets and the Oklahoma City Thunder in Oklahoma City, Thursday, Jan. 2, 2014. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)

Brooklyn Nets forward Paul Pierce (34) shoots in front of Oklahoma City Thunder guard Jeremy Lamb (11) during an NBA basketball game between the Brooklyn Nets and the Oklahoma City Thunder in Oklahoma City, Thursday, Jan. 2, 2014. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)

The Truth has surpassed The Answer. That is, Paul Pierce moved past Allen Iverson on the NBA’s all-time scoring list. Pierce took over 19th place, pushing Iverson to 20th, with 17 points in a Brooklyn win over Cleveland on Saturday.

With 24,392 points to his name, and a 21.6 points per game career average, Pierce is in elite company, and the next three players in front of him on the list are all within 900 points. Already ahead of NBA legends such as Tim Duncan (21st, 24,249 points) and Charles Barkley (22nd, 23,357), next up on the ladder are Patrick Ewing (18th, 24,815), Jerry West (17th, 25,192) and Reggie Miller (16th, 25,279).


Former Jayhawks to rock nickname jerseys

Speaking of The Truth, Pierce will soon don a Brooklyn jersey with his nickname on the back of it, instead of his last name.

Both the Miami Heat and Brooklyn Nets will wear the gimmicky nickname jerseys when the teams square off Friday night at Brooklyn.

Check out a sneak peek of Pierce’s "Truth" jersey and Mario Chalmers’ “Rio” uni over at Sports Illustrated’s Point Forward blog.

However, it remains to be seen if Chalmers will be able to wear his specialty jersey on Friday. He missed Tuesday’s Heat victory over New Orleans with Achilles tendinitis.


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