Posts tagged with Jayhawks

Cole Aldrich goes from DNP’s to key bench producer with Clippers

Los Angeles Clippers' Cole Aldrich, left, dunks past Miami Heat's Justise Winslow during the first half of an NBA basketball game Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2016, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Danny Moloshok)

Los Angeles Clippers' Cole Aldrich, left, dunks past Miami Heat's Justise Winslow during the first half of an NBA basketball game Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2016, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Danny Moloshok)

What has gotten into Cole Aldrich?

The sixth-year big man out of Kansas who spent most of November and December not even checking into games for his new team, the Los Angeles Clippers, has turned into a bit of a force off the bench.

The Clippers’ coach and general manager, Doc Rivers, told the Orange County Register the 6-foot-11, 250-pound Aldrich has helped give L.A.’s bench an identity.

“Cole just knows who he is,” Rivers said. “He has this body, and he uses it. He doesn’t try to beat you athletically; he just gets his body in the right positions. He rolls to the right spot.”

Aldrich is doing more than just providing a large, warm body in the paint. The burly 27-year-old center, who has averaged 3.3 points and 3.5 rebounds while playing for five different franchises in his career, has actually been an effective piece of the Clippers’ offense, too.

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Since Rivers began using Aldrich more, in a 1-point loss to Oklahoma City on Dec. 21, the Clippers are 11-2. In January, Aldrich is averaging 9.4 points and 6.1 rebounds, while making 54% of his shots in just 15.7 minutes an outing.

Aldrich’s recent success obviously has been a direct result of more minutes. But injuries to other Clippers played a part in his prolonged opportunity. All-star forward Blake Griffin hasn’t played since Christmas, due to a quad injury, opening up minutes in Rivers’ rotation.

Still, with the way Aldrich has taken advantage of filling in, it’s hard to see Rivers abandoning his newfound option down low. What’s more, L.A. point guard Chris Paul told the L.A. Times the team’s recent run of injuries should make the Clippers better when they’re fully healthy .

"These guys missing games is giving other guys an opportunity to build their confidence," Paul said, "and that way when they come back it just adds that much more depth to our team."

On Saturday in a loss to Sacramento, Aldrich didn’t look so hot to start the game, missing 6 of his first 7 shots. But he showed Rivers and his teammates something by making his final 7 shot attempts, on his way to 19 points and 10 boards.

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“Well, he had to have it,” Rivers said to the Los Angeles Daily News of Aldrich’s strong finish, “because he missed some, as we did as a team, he missed some pretty point-blank looks, and so he’s been pretty persistent.”

Rivers praised Aldrich for his professionalism, and being ready to contribute to the team after not playing at all in 22 games earlier this season.

“Never stopped working,” the coach added of Aldrich, “actually worked himself into better shape in not playing, which is hard to do. So I think that says a lot about his character.”

Aldrich told the L.A. Daily News he knows how to star in his role, by doing the most with his abilities.

“I mean, I know that my role is to set screens, roll hard,” the backup big man said, “if given the opportunity to make some buckets, make them and then just defend the rim.”

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The Clippers’ veterans love Aldrich’s professionalism. Paul said Aldrich shows up and works hard every day.

“I mean, you couldn’t find anybody on our team that could say something bad about Cole,” Paul said.

Then again, when Aldrich lets his goofy side out, all of his teammates don’t mind telling him what an awful dancer he is.

At least Aldrich owns it. Just like he does his backup role.

None by Cole Aldrich


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Mario Chalmers hits wild game-winner for Memphis

Memphis Grizzlies guard Mario Chalmers reacts after making the winning basket against the Detroit Pistons in the second half of an NBA basketball game Thursday, Jan. 14, 2016, in Memphis, Tenn. The Grizzlies defeated the Pistons 103-101. (AP Photo/Brandon Dill)

Memphis Grizzlies guard Mario Chalmers reacts after making the winning basket against the Detroit Pistons in the second half of an NBA basketball game Thursday, Jan. 14, 2016, in Memphis, Tenn. The Grizzlies defeated the Pistons 103-101. (AP Photo/Brandon Dill)

The more Mario Chalmers plays for the Memphis Grizzlies, the more it seems getting traded from Miami might be the best thing that’s happened to his career since LeBron James showed up in South Beach.

Currently a starter for Memphis — in place of injured Mike Conley the past four games — all the former Kansas star did Thursday night was turn out game-highs in minutes (42), points (25), assists (8) and steals (4).

Oh, yeah. And Chalmers hit the game-winning shot against Detroit.

After another ’Hawk in the NBA, the Pistons’ Marcus Morris, had the ball stripped on the opposite end of the floor, it ended up in Chalmers’ hands with the fourth-quarter clock quickly making its way toward 0:00 with the game tied at 101, in Memphis.

Morris and Pistons guard Brandon Jennings nearly swiped the ball from Chalmers at the top of the key before the Grizzlies guard retrieved it off the floor and, in the same continuous motion, got off an awkward jumper that beat the buzzer and gave Memphis a wild, last-second win over the visiting Pistons.

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“I just seen it, and I was able to get to it and get to my good spot and release it on time,” Chalmers told FOX Sports Southeast after hitting the improbable shot.

Chalmers embraced his new role with Memphis, as a score-first backup guard, which helped him get over the Heat trading him away, and has carried that over into his temporary starting role, while Conley rests a sore left achilles tendon.

In his past 5 games, Chalmers has played 30-plus minutes an outing and averaged 17.6 points, 5.0 rebounds, 6.8 assists and 2.2 steals, while shooting 41.2% from the floor and 10-for-28 from 3-point range (35.7%).

The Grizzlies are 3-1 with Chalmers in the starting lineup, with wins over Detroit, Boston and Denver, and a loss to Houston. Memphis (22-19) currently has the 6th-best record in the Western Conference.


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Christmas Day viewers’ guide for KU hoops fans

As the NBA showcases five Christmas Day games, Kansas basketball fans looking to mix in some Jayhawks with their holiday festivities will have a chance to catch a glimpse of as many as seven former KU players.

Here’s a rundown of ’Hawks in the NBA taking the court while most of the country takes the day off.

Chicago at Oklahoma City — featuring Kirk Hinrich and Nick Collison

If you love veteran role players and stars from Roy Williams’ last years at KU, well, you better send the NBA a thank-you note for this present. Both Kirk Hinrich and Nick Collison will get some national air-time Christmas afternoon (1:30, ABC) when Hinrich’s Bulls play at Collison’s Thunder (though most promos for the game probably feature Derrick Rose, Jimmy Butler, Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook).

Chicago Bulls guard Kirk Hinrich adjusts his goggles in the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Indiana Pacers, Friday, Nov. 27, 2015, in Indianapolis. Indiana won 104-92. (AP Photo/R Brent Smith)

Chicago Bulls guard Kirk Hinrich adjusts his goggles in the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Indiana Pacers, Friday, Nov. 27, 2015, in Indianapolis. Indiana won 104-92. (AP Photo/R Brent Smith)

Now 34 years old, Hinrich plays a backup role for Chicago (15-11) and averages just 16.2 minutes a game. But this is his 11th season playing for the Bulls, the team that drafted him seventh overall in 2003. As pointed out recently by SI.com, the veteran 6-foot-4 guard now leads the franchise in career 3-pointers (1,040) and ranks third all-time in games played (730). The only Bulls who have played more games for Chicago are Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen.

Hinrich also sits third all-time in steals (853) and assists (3,779) for Chicago — again, behind Jordan and Pippen — and eighth in points (8,486).

“The young guys, they’re joking all the time, ‘Did you play with Bill Cartwright?’” Hinrich told SI.com.

More of a facilitator and defender these days, Hinrich’s best game of the season so far came in November, when Rose was injured and he played 34 minutes. Hinrich scored 17 points and helped limit reigning MVP Steph Curry to 3-for-11 shooting.

“He’s a guy that goes out and does the little things,” first-year Chicago coach Fred Hoiberg said. “He organizes everything on both ends of the floor.”

Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook, left, and forward Nick Collison, right, try to take the ball away from Toronto Raptors center Jonas Valanciunas (17) in the third quarter of an NBA basketball game in Oklahoma City, Wednesday, Nov. 4, 2015. Toronto won 103-98. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)

Oklahoma City Thunder guard Russell Westbrook, left, and forward Nick Collison, right, try to take the ball away from Toronto Raptors center Jonas Valanciunas (17) in the third quarter of an NBA basketball game in Oklahoma City, Wednesday, Nov. 4, 2015. Toronto won 103-98. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)

Hinrich’s old running mate at KU, Collison also plays a limited role (13.6 minutes) as a 35-year-old substitute big man for one of the NBA’s premier teams. And like Hinrich, the 6-10 forward ranks pretty high on some of Oklahoma City’s all-time lists.

Drafted by Seattle before the franchise relocated to OKC, Collison is third in games played (841), behind Fred Brown and Gary Payton. He ranks third in offensive rebounds (1,709) and total rebounds (4,566), behind Jack Sikma and Shawn Kemp. Collison also is third in field-goal percentage (.534), sixth in blocks (459) and ninth in minutes played (18,042).

As much of a mentor as a statistical contributor, Collison helps the Thunder (20-9) on and off the floor. He leads by example by defending, rebounding and taking charges.

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And he’s helped 22-year-old protégé Steven Adams develop the Thunder’s pick-and-roll into a legitimate weapon.

“The teams that are really hard to guard in this league are the ones where you have a big threat rolling down the middle and you’re really put in a bind,” Collison told Oklahoma City’s website. “We’re trying to get in those situations on the offensive end as much as possible.”

Cleveland at Golden State — featuring Sasha Kaun and Brandon Rush

An NBA Finals rematch? How about the first ever professional meeting between Cleveland’s Sasha Kaun and Golden State’s Brandon Rush (4 p.m., ABC) — teammates on KU’s 2008 national championship team.

Milwaukee Bucks' Michael Carter-Williams drives against Golden State Warriors' Brandon Rush during the second half of an NBA basketball game Saturday, Dec. 12, 2015, in Milwaukee. The Bucks won 108-95. (AP Photo/Aaron Gash)

Milwaukee Bucks' Michael Carter-Williams drives against Golden State Warriors' Brandon Rush during the second half of an NBA basketball game Saturday, Dec. 12, 2015, in Milwaukee. The Bucks won 108-95. (AP Photo/Aaron Gash)

A member of the nearly unbeatable defending champion Warriors (27-1), Rush has played more this year (14.9 minutes, 5.2 points) than he has since the 2011-12 season. Golden State made the 30-year-old forward a starter when Harrison Barnes injured his ankle and became unavailable.

“I’ve been waiting for this opportunity to show that I can still shoot the ball and can still play at a high level,” Rush told the San Francisco Chronicle. “I feel so much better than I did last year — with my shot and just being able to move around the court.”

Rush’s best game to date came against Sacramento, when he nailed 4 of 5 from 3-point range and scored 16 points. In December, he is averaging 6.8 points and hitting 50 percent of his 3-pointers (14 of 28).

A major knee injury in 2012 derailed Rush’s career a bit, but now he finally appears to be back on track.

“It’s been up and down, especially these past two or three years,” Rush told the San Francisco Chronicle. “But now, everything is looking up. Things can’t get any better. I’m shooting the ball well, we’re the best team in the league, and we’re on the verge of trying to get another championship. I’m definitely in a great place right now.”

Memphis Grizzlies' Brandan Wright, left, shoots over Cleveland Cavaliers' Sasha Kaun, of Russia, during the third quarter of a preseason NBA basketball game Monday, Oct. 12, 2015, in Columbus, Ohio. The Grizzlies beat the Cavaliers 91-81. (AP Photo/Jay LaPrete)

Memphis Grizzlies' Brandan Wright, left, shoots over Cleveland Cavaliers' Sasha Kaun, of Russia, during the third quarter of a preseason NBA basketball game Monday, Oct. 12, 2015, in Columbus, Ohio. The Grizzlies beat the Cavaliers 91-81. (AP Photo/Jay LaPrete)

Kaun landed in a pretty good situation to start his NBA career. Cleveland, home of superstar LeBron James, is 19-7 and the prohibitive favorite in the Eastern Conference to return to the NBA Finals.

The Cavs don’t exactly need Kaun, a 30-year-old, 6-11 center that much, though. After spending most of his professional career overseas, Kaun has played in just seven games in his rookie season, with eight total points in those cameos (4.4 minutes).

"But, you know, his game is very simplistic,” Cavs coach David Blatt told Northeast Ohio Media Group before the season began, “so it's not like he has to do a lot of things that would require him to adjust. He just has to get used to the size and the length of the guys and the speed of the game."

L.A. Clippers at L.A. Lakers — featuring Paul Pierce, Cole Aldrich and Tarik Black

This NBA nightcap in Los Angeles (9:30 p.m., ESPN) seems like it would provide the most bang for a KU fan’s buck, with three Jayhawks in the mix.

Los Angeles Clippers' Paul Pierce, left, dribble against Milwaukee Bucks' Jabari Parker during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Wednesday, Dec. 16, 2015, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Danny Moloshok)

Los Angeles Clippers' Paul Pierce, left, dribble against Milwaukee Bucks' Jabari Parker during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Wednesday, Dec. 16, 2015, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Danny Moloshok)

But even longtime NBA star Paul Pierce isn’t expected to participate all that much. The 38-year-old forward sat out the Clippers’ previous game to rest his sore back, and coach Doc Rivers said his veteran forward will be limited in the battle of Los Angeles.

Pierce has played less for his new team of late, averaging only 10.8 minutes and 3.0 points in December (16.3 minutes, 4.1 points on the season).

On the other hand, another Jayhawk this week suddenly found himself in a more active role.

Los Angeles Clippers' Cole Aldrich, left, defends Oklahoma City Thunder's Serge Ibaka during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Monday, Dec. 21, 2015, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

Los Angeles Clippers' Cole Aldrich, left, defends Oklahoma City Thunder's Serge Ibaka during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Monday, Dec. 21, 2015, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

Reserve center Cole Aldrich, after not registering a single minute in 11 straight games, has played in each of the Clippers’ last two games and even played in the fourth quarter of a one-point loss to Oklahoma City earlier this week. Aldrich finished with five points, four rebounds and two blocks in 14 minutes.

"I think that was a prime example of being a star in your role and not trying to reach outside of that," Blake Griffin told the Los Angeles Times. “(Aldrich) just did what we need him to do and that's huge."

Rivers told the L.A. Times he turned to Aldrich to give the Clippers (16-13) an energetic boost. That’s what the 27-year-old did, playing in just his seventh game of the season (1.7 points, 2.1 rebounds in 5.3 minutes).

"If we play this way the rest of the year, we're going to win a lot of games," Aldrich told the L.A. Times. "We played with a lot of heart and a lot of enthusiasm and it was fun out there."

Los Angeles Lakers center Tarik Black (28) goes to the basket past Orlando Magic forward Channing Frye during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Wednesday, Nov. 11, 2015, in Orlando, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux)

Los Angeles Lakers center Tarik Black (28) goes to the basket past Orlando Magic forward Channing Frye during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Wednesday, Nov. 11, 2015, in Orlando, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux)

Meanwhile, the struggling Lakers (5-24) could use a similar spark from second-year big man Tarik Black. The 6-foot-9 center hasn’t played for the purple and gold since Nov. 24, but just got called back up from the team’s D-League affiliate on Wednesday.

Black put up 25 points and 14 rebounds in his final appearance with the D-Fenders. The 24-year-old big averaged 18.5 points and 11.8 rebounds in a four-game D-League stint, coming off an ankle injury.

Lakers coach Bryron Scott didn’t play Black Wednesday, while utilizing three other big men off the bench in a 35-point loss to the Thunder. So there is no guarantee Black will see the floor versus the Clippers.


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Disgruntled Markieff Morris tosses towel at Suns coach, earns 2-game suspension

Phoenix Suns head coach Jeff Hornacek, right, talks with Markieff Morris, left, during the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Denver Nuggets Wednesday, Dec. 23, 2015, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

Phoenix Suns head coach Jeff Hornacek, right, talks with Markieff Morris, left, during the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Denver Nuggets Wednesday, Dec. 23, 2015, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

It doesn’t look like Markieff Morris and Phoenix coach Jeff Hornacek will be exchanging Christmas cards this year.

Upset Wednesday night when his coach subbed him out of the game in the fourth quarter of what would become another Suns loss, Morris threw a towel toward Hornacek while yelling at him, according to the Arizona Republic’s Paul Coro. Hornacek then picked up the towel and threw it back in the direction of Morris with a counter of “his own upset words.”

A former star at Kansas, Morris has fallen out of favor with Phoenix’s coach of late, playing far fewer minted than expected after a breakthrough season a year ago (career highs of 15.3 points per game, 6.2 rebounds, 2.3 assists, 31.5 minutes, 82 starts).

Morris logged just 12 minutes in the loss to Denver that now may mark the tipping point in what already had become a soured relationship between the 6-foot-10 forward and the organization that drafted him.

“He’s mad about not playing,” Hornacek said in Coro’s report. “I look at the stat sheet. He’s a minus-13 in 12 minutes. So there, I took him out. … He thinks he’s better than that. Show me.”

Morris first became disgruntled with the Suns organization this past summer, when the team traded his twin brother Marcus to Detroit unexpectedly. He publicly said he wanted Phoenix to trade him, too, as a result and the more the season goes on the more inevitable that endgame seems.

After starting 16 games for the Suns this season, Morris since has lost his starting job and now finds himself behind Jon Leuer and Mirza Teletovic in Hornacek’s rotation.

Following Morris’ run-in with the head coach — incidentally, Hornacek also got in a shouting match with Marcus Morris nearly a year ago — Markieff was suspended two games by the Suns on Christmas Eve, according to Yahoo.

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As for Morris’ response Wednesday night regarding the tossed towel?

“That’s between me and ‘H’ (Hornaceck),” Morris told the Arizona Republic. “It’s not for media. It’s something between me and him that happened. We’ll talk about it.”

After not playing a single minute in 7 of the previous 9 games, Morris has played sparingly in Phoenix’s last 4 outings. The fifth-year forward logged 17 minutes in his return to action, a win at New Orleans (one of the teams rumored to be interested in trading for him), and scored 13 points. He scored 8 points in 15 minutes versus Milwaukee, 4 points in 21 minutes at Utah and 6 points in 12 minutes vs. Denver.

Morris’ name already was one of the biggest swirling in NBA trade rumors. Now his departure from Phoenix (12-19) seems inevitable.


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Joel Embiid easing into another season of basketball rehab

Philadelphia 76ers' Joel Embiid shoots during warmups before his team plays the New York Knicks, Friday, Dec. 18, 2015, in Philadelphia. (Yong Kim/The Philadelphia Inquirer via AP)

Philadelphia 76ers' Joel Embiid shoots during warmups before his team plays the New York Knicks, Friday, Dec. 18, 2015, in Philadelphia. (Yong Kim/The Philadelphia Inquirer via AP) by Yong Kim | The Philadelphia Inquirer via AP

Not much basketball joy exists in the realm of Philadelphia 76ers fans these days. And who could blame them? The Sixers have won exactly one game in 30 tries — the worst start to a season in NBA history — as the franchise trudges on through a self-imposed rebuilding process driven by (the hope of) cashing in on high lottery picks.

Of course, that business model might be a little less laughable right now if former Kansas big man Joel Embiid had actually, you know, been able to play in games for Philadelphia during last season or this one.

Since entering the 2014 draft, the 7-foot Embiid has undergone two surgeries on his right foot — most recently this past August, involving a graft on the same navicular bone he first fractured before Philadelphia picked him No. 3 overall.

But Sixers fans can at least feel a little bit better about the future, just in time for the holidays, as Embiid, who is again expected to miss an entire season, has started to go through very basic basketball drills in the early stages of another rehab process.

Philadelphia coach Brett Brown told reporters, including Keith Pompey of Philly.com, the 76ers love seeing the gregarious big man getting in some light work.

"This just happens to be one of these times were he can get rehab in and be a part of us. But it's good to see him."

Embiid, who per NBA rules doesn’t have to speak with reporters until he is an active participant in 5-on-5 drills, appears to be taking a different approach to getting healthy this season, according to his coach.

"I just know what I see, just a committed, hopeful athlete," Brown said. "He sees that he's doing the right thing. He feels like he's doing the right thing. He is doing the right thing. So I just see somebody that's got the edge where he wants to get going again. I think mentally it's night and day from talking to him this time in December last year."

As you can tell from an Embiid Instagram post that gained a lot of traction, the big man looks to be in the best physical shape of his life (foot injury not included).

Coming along nicely #TrustTheProcess #shirleytemple

A photo posted by Joel Hans Embiid (@joelembiid) on Dec 11, 2015 at 6:49pm PST

Still, that bum foot means he can’t make real basketball moves for now — because if he tried he likely would suffer yet another setback. There is some video evidence of how little Embiid is allowed to take on. Earlier this week, Pompey tweeted out videos of the 21-year-old rookie-in-waiting remaining flat-footed during drills that incorporated shooting, passing and ball handling.

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None by Keith Pompey

None by Keith Pompey

It’s all part of Embiid’s long journey toward playing next year (the Sixers hope).

Embiid won’t ever get to face his basketball idol, Kobe Bryant, who is retiring at the end of this season.

But maybe a more focused Embiid has emerged from the past year-plus of disappointment. And just maybe he’ll be the player who begins to turn the 76ers franchise around.

Embiid is skilled enough to be that guy if his body will ever give him a chance to show it. But we’ll have to wait until 2016-17 to find out how his feet and back cooperate in that process.


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Undermanned Wizards starting rookie Kelly Oubre Jr.

Washington Wizards forward Kelly Oubre Jr. (12), handles the ball against Charlotte Hornets forward P.J. Hairston (19), in the first half of an NBA basketball game at the Verizon Center in Washington on Saturday, Dec. 19, 2015. This was Oubre's first game as a starter. The Wizards won 109-101. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

Washington Wizards forward Kelly Oubre Jr. (12), handles the ball against Charlotte Hornets forward P.J. Hairston (19), in the first half of an NBA basketball game at the Verizon Center in Washington on Saturday, Dec. 19, 2015. This was Oubre's first game as a starter. The Wizards won 109-101. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

Twenty-year-old rookie Kelly Oubre Jr. didn’t figure into Washington’s plans when the season began. The Wizards hoped to bring the 6-foot-7 forward out of Kansas along slowly and develop him away from the spotlight of actual NBA games.

That idea got altered — at least temporarily — when the Wizards lost their starting small forward to an injury last week, and Oubre earned an unexpected shot to try and prove he belongs ahead of schedule.

Averaging just 9.3 minutes and 4.0 points on the season (with 7 DNP-CD’s), Oubre played more than 20 minutes in each of Washington’s past two games and started for the first time in his career due to Otto Porter’s left thigh bruise.

Against Charlotte on Saturday, Oubre made both of his 3-pointers, shot 3-for-5 overall, scored 8 points and had 5 rebounds in his first outing as an NBA starter. He played just 22 minutes after picking up his second foul a little more than 6 minutes in.

Afterward, Oubre told The Washington Post he tried to ease into his new role.

“I was just trying to play within the confines of the offense, the flow,” Oubre said. “Letting it come to me, not forcing anything.”

“I kind of know the standard of what I need to do to be successful in the NBA game,” Oubre added. “I watched film off that and continue to build off that. So I feel like it’s something that I can continue to grow up upon.”

Oubre scored a career-high 18 points in Washington’s previous game, a blowout loss at San Antonio.

According to CSN Mid-Atlantic, Oubre is expected to get start No. 2 Monday night against Sacramento.

Referencing his 4 fouls in his first start, Oubre said:

"I'm the rookie. Guys know certain tricks to get foul calls.”

In the meantime, the rookie, who earlier this season learned a valuable lesson about NBA decorum when the league fined him $15,000 for an obscene gesture he made on the bench, will continue to try and pick and choose his spots and figure out how he can impact the game for the disappointing Wizards (11-14).

"Until I'm established and I know what it is I'm giving every night, then I'll try to do more," Oubre said. "I'm just trying to play within the confines of the offense, trying to do what I need to do to stay on the court."


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


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Mario Chalmers receives hero’s welcome in return to Miami

Memphis Grizzlies guard Mario Chalmers (6) looks for an open teammate past Miami Heat guard Goran Dragic (7) during the second half of an NBA basketball game, Sunday, Dec. 13, 2015, in Miami. Chalmers, playing against Miami as an opponent for the first time since being traded to Memphis last month, finished with 12 for the Grizzlies as the Heat defeated the Grizzlies 100-97. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

Memphis Grizzlies guard Mario Chalmers (6) looks for an open teammate past Miami Heat guard Goran Dragic (7) during the second half of an NBA basketball game, Sunday, Dec. 13, 2015, in Miami. Chalmers, playing against Miami as an opponent for the first time since being traded to Memphis last month, finished with 12 for the Grizzlies as the Heat defeated the Grizzlies 100-97. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

Mario Chalmers returned to Miami Sunday, marking his first time playing at his former home arena since the Heat shipped him to Memphis in early November.

The way his former organization treated Chalmers, who had played every game of his career with Miami before the deal, one would think the guard who famously hit a late 3-pointer to propel Kansas past Memphis in the 2008 NCAA championship game also single-handedly took the Heat to four straight NBA Finals and back-to-back titles in 2012 and 2013.

Obviously LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh had a whole lot to do with Miami’s success during that run, but Miami still acknowledged Chalmers with a hero’s welcome in the form of a tribute video.

Maybe Miami felt bad about shipping away its former guard. Bosh had a long list of attributes when asked by the Miami Herald what the Heat misses now that Chalmers plays with the Grizzlies.

“His length. His defensive capability. His offensive capability. His outside shooting. Being able to spread the floor. His knack for passing and getting guys involved in offense. Getting easy baskets. He’s a very talented player,” Bosh said.

“When you miss those things, you notice. He created so many turnovers for this team. He had a knack for getting his hand on the ball, which was great for this team.”

Or perhaps Miami regretted moving Chalmers without giving him proper notice. The 6-foot-2 role player who gave 525 games of his career to the Heat told NBCSports.com he found out about the trade via Twitter.

“For me being there so long, and nobody had the respect to tell me that I was about to get traded, that’s how it went down,” Chalmers said.

His new role with the Grizzlies certainly has helped him move on, though. Chalmers said Memphis coach Dave Joerger told him before he arrived that the Grizzlies needed him to score.

Against his former team, Chalmers scored 12 points on 4-for-7 shooting, marking the 10th time he has scored in double digits off the bench for the Grizzlies, who are 10-6 with their new backup guard in the lineup.

The Heat won, 100-97, but Chalmers got to enjoy his return, thanks to his former team showing him some love.

None by Will Manso

None by Mario Chalmers

As for the real reason the Heat wanted to welcome Chalmers back? Well, as Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald detailed, the role player accomplished quite a bit in his time in South Beach:

Chalmers ranks second in Heat history in steals, third in assists, fourth in games played and three-pointers, sixth in games started and minutes, 11th in points, 13th in field goals and free throws and 15th in rebounds.

He holds the Heat single-game record for steals (nine) and shares the single-game record for three-pointers (10).

Now 29 and in his eighth NBA season, Chalmers is averaging 11.2 points for Memphis — a number that would top his career high of 10.2 ppg, set last season, when he was playing 29.6 minutes for Miami. The Grizzlies, using him as a bench scorer, are getting great returns while only playing Chalmers 19.2 minutes.

And it’s not as if he’s a liability on defense, either, like some substitute scoring specialists. Joerger described Chalmers as feisty and told NBCSports.com about what he expects from his new bench weapon going forward.

“I think the best of Mario Chalmers is yet to come for our team,” Joerger said.


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Markieff Morris’ days with Phoenix might be numbered

Phoenix Suns forward Markieff Morris (11) shoots over Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green during the third quarter of an NBA basketball game, Friday, Nov. 27, 2015, in Phoenix. The Warriors won 135-116. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

Phoenix Suns forward Markieff Morris (11) shoots over Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green during the third quarter of an NBA basketball game, Friday, Nov. 27, 2015, in Phoenix. The Warriors won 135-116. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

Unlike his brother Marcus, thriving on a new team this season, it seems doubtful Markieff Morris is too thrilled with his situation in Phoenix right now.

Then again, his basketball troubles could only be temporary. Morris’ days as a member of the Suns might be numbered.

Although the 6-foot-10 power forward has played for Phoenix since he left Kansas in 2011, Morris, angered the team abruptly traded his brother, publicly postured for a trade this summer. He changed his tune upon reporting to preseason camp, but as the season progresses, it appears Morris never has completely gotten over it.

Way back during the first week of the regular season, Marcus Morris told mlive.com he couldn’t believe Markieff was still with Phoenix. What’s more, the new member of the Pistons said his twin brother didn’t “look happy.”

"He just don't look comfortable," Marcus Morris added. "He don't look too excited."

Marcus said he knew Markieff well enough to sense his demeanor had changed, and he didn’t understand why the Suns hadn’t traded him, too.

“You're in the league, a player says he doesn't want to play somewhere, and everybody's asking him about it. I haven't really seen too many places that kept the player who doesn't want to be there," Marcus said at the time.

While many around the NBA assumed Markieff’s name would come up in trade talks sooner or later this season, that line of thinking picked up heat this past week with ESPN’s Marc Stein reporting Houston might be looking into a deal for the disgruntled forward. From there, it didn’t take too long for other potential destinations, such as New Orleans, to pop up on the rumor-obsessed Internet.

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Fueling the speculation, Morris hasn’t played a single minute in three of Phoenix’s past five games. AZcentral.com reported Markieff chose to sit out a Dec. 2 game against Marcus and the Pistons with a bruised knee. Suns coach Jeff Hornacek then declined to play his team’s lone Morris twin at Memphis. Reportedly, Morris missed Wednesday’s game against Orlando due to illness. Two days earlier, he only played 7 minutes (off the bench) against Chicago.

Of late, Phoenix big men Jon Leuer and Mirza Teletovic have supplanted Morris in Hornacek’s rotation.

On the season, Morris’ numbers have dropped off from a year ago, when he enjoyed his best campaign in the NBA. He’s only scoring 11.4 points and shooting what would be career-lows from the field (38.6%) and from 3-point range (27.9%), despite some good games here and there in November.

The more you read the writing on the wall, the more likely it seems Phoenix will part ways with the player it drafted 13th overall in 2011.

For what it’s worth Suns general manager Ryan McDonough, as reported at ArizonaSports.com, went on a local radio show and had good things to say about Morris.

McDonough praised Morris for his attitude and pointed to his cheering reaction from the bench when Teletovic scored a game-winning basket.

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“Are we shopping him? I wouldn’t necessarily say that, but we’re looking at whatever we can do to upgrade our team,” Phoenix’s GM said. “The trade deadline is in late February. Despite our struggles, I think as we sit here today we’re one game out of the eight spot in the West, and I think we just went through the toughest part of our schedule and we were able to keep our head above water, so to speak.”

McDonough went on to say the Suns don’t have a player they’re “just trying to get rid of.”

“We don’t really look to make moves that would have us take a step back, or I guess be considered lateral moves. If there’s a trade that makes our team a whole lot better in the short and long-term, we’ll do it. But short of that we’ll ride with the group we have.”

All of that might be true, but if the Suns have privately decided to use Leuer and Teletovic as their power forwards, instead of Morris, other teams are going to inquire about a trade.

Even if Morris has slumped this season, his size and ability to stretch the floor are obviously coveted (see: Houston and New Orleans rumors). If the right trade offer comes along, Phoenix would move him. The Suns’ GM essentially said so himself.


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Pistons trust Marcus Morris, who is having breakout season

Detroit Pistons' Marcus Morris (13) drives past Milwaukee Bucks' Michael Carter-Williams (5) during the first half of an NBA preseason basketball game Saturday, Oct. 10, 2015, in Milwaukee. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)

Detroit Pistons' Marcus Morris (13) drives past Milwaukee Bucks' Michael Carter-Williams (5) during the first half of an NBA preseason basketball game Saturday, Oct. 10, 2015, in Milwaukee. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)

It’s safe to say Marcus Morris has recovered from the initial disappointment of getting traded from Phoenix and leaving behind his twin brother, Markieff.

Through 22 games with his new team, the Detroit Pistons, Marcus Morris is well on his way to the best season of his career, since leaving Kansas for the NBA in 2011.

For starters, well, Morris is solidified as a starter for Detroit. In the 6-foot-9 forward’s previous four seasons in the NBA, he only started 69 times. Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy has wanted Morris out on the floor for tip-off every game this season.

And rarely does Van Gundy ask his versatile forward to take a rest. Roughly a quarter of the way through the regular season, Morris is averaging 36.4 minutes a game. That’s the sixth-highest mark in the league right now and far beyond his previous career-best 25.2 minutes per game last season in Phoenix.

With that newfound responsibility, Morris is averaging what would be career highs in points (14.3), rebounds (6.0), assists (2.1) and steals (1.2). Though Morris’ shooting numbers — 39.9% from the floor, 28.8% from 3-point range — have dropped below his career averages (42.6% overall, 35.7% on 3-pointers), obviously Van Gundy thinks enough of him to keep him on the court.

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Morris told The Detroit News he’s happy to be with the Pistons (12-10 and in the hunt for the playoffs in the surprisingly competitive Eastern Conference). The new Piston tries to remain aggressive even when shots aren’t falling. Morris said he also wants to take an assertive approach to getting teammates involved and making the right play.

“That comes with time and with getting adjusted to a role. It’s the first time I really got to play this many minutes and be able to make mistakes and play through it,” Morris said. “It’s definitely a major help for me.”

Van Gundy uses Morris at both forward spots, depending on who else is on the floor at the time, and the coach told The Detroit News he wants to see even more production from the man he traded for this past summer.

“Marcus can do a lot of things, and I have to create more and more things for him,” Van Gundy said. “He’s a damn-good passer, too. We’re really fortunate to have him. We thought he was good when we got him, and he’s better than I thought he was.”

The Pistons aren’t exactly the deepest team around, and Morris has found ways to make his minutes valuable and compliment Detroit’s emerging star, big man Andre Drummond.

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Morris told the Pistons’ website he thinks he arrived for pre-season training camp in the best shape of his career, as requested by Van Gundy. The coach also told his new player ahead of time that he planned to use Morris as a stretch-4 at times, so he should be ready to shoot 3-pointers.

“A coach can say anything,” Morris said, “but if you come and you’re not that player they thought you were, it’s easy to take it back. ‘Oh, he’s not really as good a scorer as I thought he was’ or ‘He’s not a great defender or the greatest shooter.’ We kept in contact a lot this summer and he told me exactly what he wanted and that’s what I based my summer around.”

It appears Morris and Van Gundy have been on the same page form Day 1, and that has made Morris’ move to Detroit great for all involved.

“I just feel comfortable and I think when any player gets to feeling comfortable, your game goes to another level,” Morris said. “But I’m not taking anything for granted. I’m going to continue to work. I’m not blowing that off. I’m happy. I’m going to continue to be one of the leaders of this team, one of the vocal leaders of this team. I’m just grateful and blessed to be in a situation where I can finally play basketball to my capabilities.”


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Year No. 3 off to troubling start for Ben McLemore

Sacramento Kings guard Ben McLemore, left, drives to the basket against Los Angeles Lakers forward Ryan Kelly, right, during the second half of an NBA basketball game in Sacramento, Calif., Friday, Oct. 30, 2015. The Kings won 132-114.(AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)

Sacramento Kings guard Ben McLemore, left, drives to the basket against Los Angeles Lakers forward Ryan Kelly, right, during the second half of an NBA basketball game in Sacramento, Calif., Friday, Oct. 30, 2015. The Kings won 132-114.(AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)

Sure, the 82-game grind that is the NBA season barely has begun. But so far, there are some signs that third-year shooting guard Ben McLemore could be in for a disappointing season.

Really, issues began to emerge in the preseason, when the 2013 one-and-done lottery pick out of Kansas only hit 27 percent of his shots for Sacramento. That led to Kings coach George Karl saying in a post from Sactown Royalty that he wished McLemore would have played better.

“But he's a young guy that I think it's the first time he has a competitive situation for minutes. In the end, it will make him a much better player," Karl said. "He might not enjoy it as much if he doesn't play. I mean, he played 2,600 minutes last year. I don't think Ben is going to play 2,600 minutes on this team."

When the man in charge of minutes predicts a decrease in minutes, that’s kind of a red flag.

Sacramento improved its depth in the offseason, and with Marco Belinelli an option at shooting guard, it’s clear Karl won’t stick with McLemore just to see how it goes.

Karl also said before the season started McLemore could turn out to be an important part of the rotation. But the coach then basically said the 6-foot-5 shooting guard hasn’t picked up on all of the offensive concepts Sacramento uses.

"I think our style is to play random, equal opportunity, flow basketball and so maybe the veteran guys or the guys that have what I call savvy, knowing how to get open, when to get open, when to cut, when not to cut. I think Ben might be below the curve of that," Karl said. "But that's a young player searching for the betterment of his skills."

McLemore, who averaged 12.1 points, made 35.8% of his 3-pointers and shot 43.7% from the floor in 32.6 minutes a game last season, is off to a slow start in the 2015-16 campaign. While starting all four games at shooting guard, the 22-year-old has only made 2 of 7 (28.6%) from 3-point range and 6 of 21 (28.6%) from the field overall.

As a result, he’s averaging 4.3 points in 19.0 minutes a game.

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In Sacramento’s most recent loss Tuesday night, versus Memphis, McLemore’s stat line looked like this:

  • 2 points, 1/5 FGs, 0/2 3s, 2 rebounds, 2 assists, 3 fouls, 2 turnovers, 20 minutes

A report Wednesday from KFBK radio cited sources around the team and said McLemore wouldn’t start the Kings’ next game.

There is plenty of season left, and more than enough time for McLemore to break out of his slump and get acclimated with Karl’s offense. But Karl wasn’t around when Sacramento drafted McLemore and has no incentive to play him more if he deems doing so is harming the Kings’ chances of winning.

This is a situation McLemore fans will want to keep their eyes on.


2015-16 ’Hawks in the NBA Season Previews


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