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Posts tagged with Jeff Withey

Jeff Withey building bulk, confidence after rookie season

Kansas University all-time blocks leader Jeff Withey, top, denies Oklahoma City Thunder forward Serge Ibaka during a victory for Withey's Pelicans April 14, 2014, in New Orleans.

Kansas University all-time blocks leader Jeff Withey, top, denies Oklahoma City Thunder forward Serge Ibaka during a victory for Withey's Pelicans April 14, 2014, in New Orleans.

With his rookie year behind him, New Orleans center Jeff Withey wasted little time addressing his shortcomings — all of which he discovered existed the hard way, by getting pushed around inside — from his first tour of the NBA.

Kansas University’s career leader in blocked shots (311), the 7-footer from San Diego only swatted 50 in limited minutes (11.8 per game) for the Pelicans this past season. Speaking to media at the organization’s mini-camp earlier this week, Withey said his offseason plan of attack, which includes playing for New Orleans at the Las Vegas summer league, is designed to get him more confidence in the post and improve his defensive rebounding.

Playing in the paint at the highest level of basketball, the young center realized quickly putting some more bulk on his frame would do him a lot of good in every aspect of the game. In a video interview posted on New Orleans’ website, Withey said he has added 17 pounds since his rookie season ended in April.

New Orleans played its young backup big 18 minutes or more in eight of its final nine games. With that, Withey said, he began to feel as though he belonged.

“I knew I could play at this level. It’s just, once you get here, you’ve got to get the confidence and get the timing down and everything, and luckily I had good vets to help me out with that,” he said. “Now that it’s here, I just want to take full advantage of it.”

Thanks to the makeup of the Pelicans’ summer league roster, Withey will have extensive opportunities to further promote his worth. All-Star power forward Anthony Davis, center Omer Asik (reportedly acquired by New Orleans) and stretch forward Ryan Anderson figure to begin next season ahead of Withey on the depth chart. But the organization’s summer league coach, Bryan Gates, told The Times-Picayune’s Nakia Hogan he expects Withey to lead in Las Vegas.

“Everybody talks about we only have one draft pick (second-round choice Russ Smith, out of Louisville),” Gates said in Hogan’s story. “What’s summer league for? Summer league is for Jeff. Let’s see what Jeff can do.”

In his summer debut Friday night, a New Orleans victory against the D-League Select team, Withey scored eight points, secured seven rebounds and blocked three shots in 25 minutes, a team-high.

In 58 games as a rookie, Withey averaged 3.3 points, 2.6 rebounds and 0.9 blocks. However, as Hogan reported, those numbers went up to 8.1 points, 3.9 boards and 2.3 denials in 21.3 minutes during his final 10 games, when he made 60.8 percent of his shot attempts.

Pelicans head coach Monty Williams told The Times-Picayune that Withey still has a lot to learn, and Williams plans to work with him one-on-one in Vegas to get the most out of him.

“As good as he was last year, he’s still like most young guys,” Williams told Hogan. “He’s got to improve up here (mentally) to take advantage of the rest of his physical abilities.”

The only summer squad player who spent the entire regular season with New Orleans, Withey said the offense might not look too fluid in Vegas. But the man who hopes to help anchor the interior defensively for the Pelicans in the 2014-15 season could prove he deserves that role by protecting the rim the way he used to at Kansas.

“We should have the smarts,” Withey said, “and defense is just about knowing where you’re supposed to be, hustling, and we have that right now.”


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Las Vegas a showcase for Andrew Wiggins, other KU products

Houston Rockets’ Tarik Black, right, tries to shoot over Philadelphia 76ers’ Nerlens Noel in an NBA summer-league game, Tuesday, July 8, 2014, in Orlando, Florida.

Houston Rockets’ Tarik Black, right, tries to shoot over Philadelphia 76ers’ Nerlens Noel in an NBA summer-league game, Tuesday, July 8, 2014, in Orlando, Florida.

While Las Vegas became the center of the NBA universe this week, thanks to the arrival of the most sought after free agent on the planet, LeBron James, it will remain the league's epicenter for the next 11 days as far less known players try to make names for themselves.

The Vegas summer league opens Friday, and between now and July 21, seven former Kansas University players will be in uniform — some just trying to work on their games and become valuable pieces for their franchises, others hoping to impress the right decision-makers enough to land contracts.

Cleveland's No. 1 pick in the 2014 draft, rookie Andrew Wiggins, highlights the Jayhawks playing in Sin City. The explosive 19-year-old wing gets his first taste of the league at 7 p.m. (CST) Friday against Milwaukee and No. 2 pick Duke's Jabari Parker.

Wiggins sat down for a video interview with Fred McLeod, of the Cavs' website, and said he already is getting comfortable with his summer league teammates.

"I'm settling (in) pretty good," the one-and-done KU product said. "Coming in as a rookie, you know, there's a lot of new plays thrown at you. You just kind of have to get situated and feel comfortable — if you have any questions, ask questions. You really don't know the offense too well, so you've just got to learn."

McLeod asked whether Wiggins had to "flush out" the offensive sets he learned at Kansas and "learn from scratch." Wiggins said that wasn't the case. Rather he needed to familiarize himself with the intricacies of plays — where to dribble, when to look for a hand-off, knowing where to find back-door cutters.

"Some things from Kansas really translated to the next level," Wiggins said. "But also, there's a lot of new things I'm learning here, too."

The Cavs have made it clear they expect the 6-foot-8 rookie with a 7-foot wingspan to impact the game on defense immediately. Wiggins said his interest in that aspect of the game first materialized when he was in elementary school.

"I just always liked to defend," he said. "You know, my father (former NBA player Mitchell Wiggins) always told me that defense will bring you far. So that's always something I try to key in on."

Offensively, of course, the young skywalker admitted running the floor in transition is what he's best at right now.

None by Cleveland Cavaliers

Mostly, Wiggins said first-year Cleveland coach David Blatt wants to see him and his teammates play with effort.

"He's not gonna take us out for missing shots," the former Jayhawk said. "He's gonna take us out for not bringing energy, not working hard."

None by New Orleans Pelicans

A year ago, as a rookie, Jeff Withey didn't know what to expect out of the summer league, or the NBA in general. This time around, the 7-footer told media at New Orleans' mini-camp, he has a much different outlook.

"I'm definitely a lot more comfortable," the Pelicans big man said in a video on the team's website. "I felt like I ended the season pretty confidently and I'm just trying to bring that into summer league. It's not as stressful for me, just because I know I'm under contract, I know that I have a year underneath my belt, so I know kind of what to expect. Last year was kind of a little frantic and (I was) kind of just worried about everything. Now I get to sit back and actually just play."

None by Trail Blazers

With one more year of NBA experience than his former KU cohort Withey, Portland's Thomas Robinson said, individually, his offseason will be about improving his mid-range ability and developing go-to moves in the post.

"Other than that, just being smarter with the basketball — being able to read things before they happen and stuff like that," the 6-foot-10 power forward told the Trail Blazers' website.

What's more, Robinson said he just feels happier and more confident now as a player.

"I'm in a good place right now," he added, "so I plan to stay here."

Unrestricted free agent Cole Aldrich has played four years in the league and he'll suit up in Vegas with New York, the franchise that signed him to a one-year deal late last September, a little more than a month before the start of the season. The 6-11 center told the Journal-World he wants to re-sign with the Knicks. These summer league games could make that happen.

"This summer is a little different than last summer," Aldrich said earlier this week. "I think things this summer will get done quicker. Last summer was wait, wait, wait."

The other former Jayhawks playing in Las Vegas are: Tarik Black (Houston), Elijah Johnson (Philadelphia) and Ben McLemore (Sacramento). Like Aldrich, Black, Little and Johnson are not under contract with a franchise. Black also played for Houston in the Orlando summer league, where he had 11 points, five rebounds, an assist, a steal and a block in 21 minutes on Thursday.


— Follow @BentonASmith on Twitter.

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Jeff Withey finishing rookie season strong

New Orleans Pelicans center Jeff Withey (5) tries to get around Phoenix Suns forward Channing Frye (8) in the first half of an NBA basketball game in New Orleans, Wednesday, April 9, 2014. (AP Photo/Bill Haber)

New Orleans Pelicans center Jeff Withey (5) tries to get around Phoenix Suns forward Channing Frye (8) in the first half of an NBA basketball game in New Orleans, Wednesday, April 9, 2014. (AP Photo/Bill Haber)

Let's face it. Jeff Withey's transition to the NBA has had its down moments in his rookie season.

But as his first-year campaign reaches its final week, it appears the lean 7-foot center out of Kansas might be finding his way in New Orleans. While Withey's season averages of 3.0 points and 2.4 rebounds in 10.9 minutes a game are about as exciting as a Utah vs. Milwaukee game, he has proven of late he can produce when given the opportunity.

In the rookie's last five games, he has played 20.5 minutes and averaged 9.2 points, 3.2 rebounds and 2.6 blocks while hitting 78% of his shots. Seventy-eight!

Earlier this week, Darrell Williams wrote about how Withey's growth has pleased the Pelicans. The team's coach, Monty Williams, told the New Orleans Advocate Withey has helped offset some of the Pelicans' injury problems of late.

“Jeff has come a long way this season. He looks nothing like the guy we saw in training camp. He has worked hard. His body looks different, and he has made progress on the court working with (assistant coach) Kevin (Hanson).”

After developing into a hard-nosed defender of the rim at KU, Withey had to acclimate himself to playing in the paint in the NBA, where things can get rough.

“You don’t have to be big to be physical. Some of it definitely is that the game has slowed down for me now. I understand things a lot better.”

With New Orleans star Anthony Davis sitting out Wednesday due to back spasms, Withey tried to carry the team himself in a 94-88 Pelicans loss to Phoenix. Withey scored 17 points — a career high — and added a couple of rebounds, three assists and a block.

The backup center and his bench mates helped get New Orleans back in the game, John Reid wrote for The Times-Picayune. The rookie big man out of Kansas had this to say:

"We try to bring a spark to our team when its needed. We definitely played pretty well tonight.''

(Watch Withey's locker room interview at NOLA.com.)

New Orleans lost its sixth game in a row, but it was definitely Withey's night. If the numbers and highlights don't prove that, this GIF should.


Paul Pierce on verge of 25K points

Brooklyn Nets forward Paul Pierce is shown during the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Miami Heat, Tuesday, April 8, 2014 in Miami. The Nets defeated the Heat 88-87. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

Brooklyn Nets forward Paul Pierce is shown during the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Miami Heat, Tuesday, April 8, 2014 in Miami. The Nets defeated the Heat 88-87. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

After scoring 14 points to help Brooklyn complete a four-game season sweep of two-time defending champion Miami earlier this week, the man known as "The Truth" appeared in no hurry to reach a significant milestone.

Pierce sat out the Nets' loss at Orlando Wednesday due to a right hip pointer injury, even though he currently needs just five points to reach 25,000 for his career.

As Rod Boone of Newsday reported, the only active players who have put up that many points are Pierce's Brooklyn teammate Kevin Garnett, the Los Angeles Lakers' Kobe Bryant and Dallas star Dirk Nowitzki.

As Pierce closes in on the elite mark — only 17 players in the history of the NBA have scored 25,000 career points — it's probably safe to assume the former KU All-American is on his way to the Hall of Fame.

Players such as Patrick Ewing, Charles Barkley, Allen Iverson, Adrian Dantley and Larry Bird never reached 25K — as pointed out in a SportsNetwork.com column.

Pierce could reach the landmark number as soon as Friday night against Atlanta. If not then, the Nets have three more regular-season dates in the coming week.

Brooklyn, which began the season looking woeful but now has a playoff spot in the East locked up, could be the final stop in Pierce's illustrious career. Speculation already has begun that he will re-sign with the Nets.


Thomas Robinson, teammates try to keep straight faces

Second-year power forward Thomas Robinson has made his share of incredible plays this season for Portland.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x0HyCU5TTZw

But there might be a new champion in the category of most remarkable YouTube clip starring the man known in Lawrence as T-Rob.

The 6-foot-10, powerful sub and a few of his teammates appeared on an episode of the IFC series Portlandia.

The show's stars, Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein, play a pair of feminist dance team coaches who try to give the Trail Blazers a pep talk after a loss.

In other words: This is amazing.

Robinson got to roll his eyes, shake his head and deliver a few of straight-faced lines. Not bad for an acting debut. (For a professional athlete.)


'Hawks in the NBA standings

Only six 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 (57-21)

  • Currently No. 2 seed in West

  • Clinched Northwest Division title/playoff berth

No. 2 — Mario Chalmers/Miami (53-25)

  • Currently No. 2 seed in East

  • Clinched Southeast Division title/playoff berth

No. 3 — Thomas Robinson/Portland (51-28)

  • Currently No. 5 seed in West

  • Clinched playoff berth

No. 4 — Markieff Morris & Marcus Morris/Phoenix (47-31)

  • Currently No. 7 seed in West

No. 5 — Kirk Hinrich/Chicago (46-32)

  • Currently No. 4 seed in East

  • Clinched playoff berth

No. 6 — Paul Pierce/Brooklyn (43-35)

  • Currently No. 5 seed in East

  • Clinched playoff berth

No. 7 — Drew Gooden/Washington (40-38)

  • Currently No. 7 seed in East

  • Clinched playoff berth

No. 8 — Darrell Arthur/Denver (35-44)

  • Eliminated from playoff contention in West

No. 9 — Cole Aldrich/New York (33-45)

  • Currently No. 9 in East, two games behind Atlanta

No. 10 — Jeff Withey/New Orleans (32-46)

  • Eliminated from playoff contention in West

No. 11 — Ben McLemore/Sacramento (27-52)

  • Eliminated from playoff contention in West

No. 12 — Xavier Henry/L.A. Lakers (25-53)

  • Eliminated from playoff contention in West

No. 13 — Brandon Rush/Utah (24-54)

  • 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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Reunion canceled: Pelicans waive Tyshawn Taylor

Cancel the party. Return your Pelicans T-shirts (unless you only bought them to celebrate Jeff Withey).

The reunion is over, and it ended before it ever had a chance to start.

Two days after New Orleans acquired Tyshawn Taylor in a trade with Brooklyn, reuniting him with former Kansas teammate Withey, the Pelicans waived Taylor on Thursday. He never even played a game with the team.

That's life in the NBA.

Pelicans coach Monty Williams told John Reid of NOLA.com he thought Taylor wasn't a good fit:

"We just released him so he could go somewhere else if somebody wanted to pick him up,'' Williams said.


At least one rumor out there has Taylor possibly signing with the Los Angeles Clippers, who are down a point guard with Chris Paul injured.

Stay tuned.


Withey makes most of his minutes

Sacramento Kings point guard Ray McCallum drives to the basket between New Orleans Pelicans center Jeff Withey, left, and center Alexis Ajinca, in the second half of an NBA basketball game in New Orleans, Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2014. The Kings won 114-97. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

Sacramento Kings point guard Ray McCallum drives to the basket between New Orleans Pelicans center Jeff Withey, left, and center Alexis Ajinca, in the second half of an NBA basketball game in New Orleans, Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2014. The Kings won 114-97. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

The waiving of Taylor might have been bad news for Withey, but the big man has to feel good about his last game. The Pelicans lost, 114-97, to Sacramento on Tuesday, but Withey played a season-high 27 minutes and the rookie big man scored 14 points — a new career high.

Nakla Hogan, of NOLA.com, wrote about Withey's breakout game, which included 5-of-6 shooting, five rebounds, two blocks and a pair of steals.

Withey told Hogan mental reps and practice work made him ready when his coach gave him an opportunity (his previous season high for minutes was 18):

"As a rookie, I've been watching where everybody is going and how other guys play, so now the game is slowing down for me a little bit when I'm out there," Withey said. "In the beginning of the year I would go out there and just run around like my head was cut off. Now I know the plays and where to be and now it's making things a lot easier."


In each of Withey's last three games, he has played at least 14 minutes. That's a far cry from the previous 30, in which he never played more than nine minutes and had several DNP's.

New Orleans has suffered some injuries in its front court, and that could give Withey a chance to establish himself as a key reserve:

"When I go out there with the second group I can bring energy. All my points (against Sacramento) was off dish offs. I don't create or anything. We have so many scorers on our team, I just have to be in the right place at the right time. It makes my job very easy."


Check out the highlight's from Withey's big night below. It will be interesting to see if he can keep up this kind of production and/or remain a part of the Pelicans' plans for the future.


Markieff Morris key to Suns' success

Phoenix Suns' Markieff Morris (11) gets off a shot and scores over Indiana Pacers' George Hill (3) and Ian Mahinmi, right, during the second half of an NBA basketball game Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2014, in Phoenix. The Suns defeated the Pacers 124-100. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

Phoenix Suns' Markieff Morris (11) gets off a shot and scores over Indiana Pacers' George Hill (3) and Ian Mahinmi, right, during the second half of an NBA basketball game Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2014, in Phoenix. The Suns defeated the Pacers 124-100. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

Throughout this season, Phoenix backup forward Markieff Morris has had a lot to do with his team's success.

It turned out he was capable of contributing to Suns losses by not playing well, too. During a recent five-game road trip, the third-year forward slumped, making just 29 percent of his shots and averaging only 6.6 points and 3.6 rebounds a game.

Suns coach Jeff Hornacek knew Morris's struggles could derail the positive momentum Phoenix (now 24-17) had created this season, as one of the NBA's more surprising teams — during the road trip, Phoenix went 1-4.

In a radio interview detailed by Vince Marotta of ArizonaSports.com, Hornacek said he spoke with the big man about busting out of the slump:

"Basically, I grabbed him after practice one day and I said 'Markieff, we need you, you're our key guy off the bench, but the only way you're going to get out of this is to play as hard as you can.' That's how you get back into it," Hornacek said. "I think guys kind of go through the motions sometimes. I think he fell a little bit back into his habit of last year -- just kind of floating around and not really running and making hard moves offensively."


Morris had no trouble responding. He's averaged 20.8 points in Phoenix's last four games (all at home), and the Suns went 3-1, with a 124-100 blowout victory over the league's top team, Indiana, on Wednesday night in Phoenix.

Morris put up 20 points against the Pacers (33-8).


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

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Taylor, Withey reunited in New Orleans

Jeff Withey (5) gets hug from Tyshawn Taylor (10) after a rebound and drawing a foul, in the last minute of the Jayhawks 66-58 win over the Aggies of Texas A&M.

Jeff Withey (5) gets hug from Tyshawn Taylor (10) after a rebound and drawing a foul, in the last minute of the Jayhawks 66-58 win over the Aggies of Texas A&M. by Mike Yoder

Look who is back together again.

Former Kansas standouts Jeff Withey and Tyshawn Taylor will be teammates once more — this time in the NBA, with New Orleans. So run out to the store and buy all the Pelicans gear you can. (Actually, not sure which would be more difficult: finding Pelicans attire or not being ridiculed for wearing Pelicans attire.)

And what better place to reunite than New Orleans, the site of the 2012 Final Four? After all, Taylor and Withey helped Kansas beat Ohio State in the national semifinals in the very city they will both now call home.

The trade that sent Taylor away from Brooklyn (and another former Jayhawk, Paul Pierce) became official Tuesday morning. As reported by John Reid of NOLA.com, the Nets dealt Taylor for cash and the draft rights to Edin Bavcic.

New Orleans acquired Taylor to for some much-needed backcourt flexibility, Reid wrote:

The Pelicans likely made the move to add depth in the backcourt because starting point guard Jrue Holiday is sidelined indefinitely with a fractured tibia.


Taylor's only averaging 3.9 points and 1.6 assists in 11.7 minutes a game this season, so it will be interesting to see whether Pelicans coach Monty Williams makes him a small part of the rotation or if Taylor will take on the same role he had in Brooklyn.

That remains to be seen, and the move definitely makes it seem like New Orleans might like Taylor, because the franchise had other options, as pointed out by NOLA.com's Nakia Hogan:

Instead of calling up NBA D-League leading scorer Pierre Jackson, whom the Pelicans hold the rights to, or standing pat with young guards Austin Rivers and Brian Roberts, the Pelicans looked to Taylor.


Whatever happens, it's safe to assume Taylor will spend more time on the floor than his old buddy, Withey, who is averaging 6.0 minutes a game.


Hinrich prefers Windy City

Chicago Bulls guard Kirk Hinrich (12) eyes Washington Wizards point guard John Wall during the first quarter of an NBA basketball game in Washington, Friday, Jan. 17, 2014. The Wizards won 96-93. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

Chicago Bulls guard Kirk Hinrich (12) eyes Washington Wizards point guard John Wall during the first quarter of an NBA basketball game in Washington, Friday, Jan. 17, 2014. The Wizards won 96-93. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

A little while back, trade winds started swirling and whispering the name of Chicago Bulls guard Kirk Hinrich, with hints floating around that he could be dealt to Golden State.

If the 11th-year NBA veteran could call the shots, though, he would at least stick with the Bulls for the remainder of the season, before his contract expires.

The one-time Jayhawk, who teamed with Oklahoma City's Nick Collison to lead Kansas to back-to-back Final Fours in 2002 and 2003, told the Chicago Tribune's K.C. Johnson he wants to keep playing as long as he can be effective, and right now he'd prefer that happen in a Bulls uniform.

"I'm happy here," Hinrich said. "I came back here because I wanted to be here. I still like our team. I get along great with the guys. We've been playing well lately so I just want to keep that going."


A trade to Golden State for Hinrich very well might be dead. The Warriors addressed their need for point guard help by acquiring Jordan Crawford from Boston. None of the talk gets to Hinrich, though.

"It's out of your control so you just keep going and trying to take care of business and focus on what we're doing here," he said. "It's not the first time my name has been in trade rumors. It's something I'm kind of used to and don't read too much into them."


In some possible bad news for Hinrich, he suffered a hamstring injury in Chicago's Monday night win over the Lakers.


Good time for a vacation

Atlanta Hawks' Dennis Schroder, right, competes for the ball with Brooklyn Nets' Paul Pierce during an NBA basketball game at the O2 Arena in London, Thursday, Jan. 16, 2014. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)

Atlanta Hawks' Dennis Schroder, right, competes for the ball with Brooklyn Nets' Paul Pierce during an NBA basketball game at the O2 Arena in London, Thursday, Jan. 16, 2014. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)

The Brooklyn Nets went on holiday to London last week for an NBA excursion against Atlanta, and amid the sight-seeing and exploring Paul Pierce scored 18 points in a 127-110 Nets victory.

Here is Pierce discussing the trip and the importance of winning this showcase game:

Seems like he enjoyed the trip, though it took some adjusting:

None by Paul Pierce

Brooklyn, which got off to a dreadful start this season, despite acquiring Pierce and Kevin Garnett (and Jason Terry, if you want to count him) from the Celtics in an off-season mega-deal, has won seven of its last eight games to climb into the No. 7 spot in the putrid Eastern Conference.

Even with a dud of a 1-for-4, three-point night Monday in the Nets' win against New York, Pierce is averaging 14.3 points, 3.9 rebounds and 3.5 assists in the Nets' last eight games, as Brooklyn appears to finally be living up to its expectations.


Get daily stat updates for all of the 'Hawks in the NBA at KUsports.com.

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In need of a big man, Pelicans don’t turn to Withey

New Orleans Pelicans forward Anthony Davis, left, who is injured, sits on bench with rookie center Jeff Withey as the Pelicans face the Denver Nuggets in the first quarter of an NBA basketball game in Denver on Sunday, Dec. 15, 2013. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

New Orleans Pelicans forward Anthony Davis, left, who is injured, sits on bench with rookie center Jeff Withey as the Pelicans face the Denver Nuggets in the first quarter of an NBA basketball game in Denver on Sunday, Dec. 15, 2013. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

Poor Jeff Withey. Not only is the above photo of him next to budding star Anthony Davis the best recent one available of the New Orleans Pelicans rookie, but his team is actively looking for big men it can add to the fold while Withey sits on the bench and learns what it takes to play in the NBA.

John Reid, of The Times-Picayune reported the Pelicans’ front office could be in search of another center, with Davis out due to a fracture in his left hand. This can’t be great news for Withey, a center already on the roster waiting for a chance to prove himself.

The 7-footer out of Kansas hasn’t played more than nine minutes in a single game since Nov.12 (weeks before Davis got knocked out of the lineup), and has not gotten off the bench in seven of New Orleans’ 15 games in that span, including two DNPs after Davis injured his hand on Dec. 1.

In real need of a big man, and not yet ready to turn to Withey full-time, New Orleans seems set to sign a 7-foot-2 French center by the name of Alexis Ajinca.

Well, there’s always the Summer League.

And those pay checks.


McLemore trade rumor

Sacramento Kings guard Ben McLemore, right, passes off as Los Angeles Clippers guard Jamal Crawford, left, looks on during the fourth quarter of an NBA basketball game in Sacramento, Calif., Friday, Nov. 29, 2013. The Clippers won in overtime 104-98. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)

Sacramento Kings guard Ben McLemore, right, passes off as Los Angeles Clippers guard Jamal Crawford, left, looks on during the fourth quarter of an NBA basketball game in Sacramento, Calif., Friday, Nov. 29, 2013. The Clippers won in overtime 104-98. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)

Ever wonder what Ben McLemore would look like in Boston Celtics green, instead of Sacramento Kings black and purple?

Supposedly, according to at least one report, the Kings could be interested in packaging their high-flying rookie with some other pieces in order to land Boston point guard Rajon Rondo.

That rumor, however, got squashed pretty quickly. Comcast Sportsnet’s A. Sherrod Blakely discussed why there isn’t anything happening on that front.

USA Today NBA Insider Sam Amick didn’t think much of the rumor, either:


Sactown Royalty outlines the questionable report of a Kings-Celtics deal and why a McLemore trade to Boston doesn’t make much sense -- at least in this version of a deal -- given McLemore's upside


Chalmers in giving spirit

Miami Heat's Mario Chalmbers (15) tries to block Cleveland Cavaliers' Kyrie Irving (2) during the first half of a NBA basketball game in Miami, Saturday, Dec.14, 2013. (AP Photo/J Pat Carter)

Miami Heat's Mario Chalmbers (15) tries to block Cleveland Cavaliers' Kyrie Irving (2) during the first half of a NBA basketball game in Miami, Saturday, Dec.14, 2013. (AP Photo/J Pat Carter)

Shoutout to the good folks over at Yahoo Sports’ Ball Don’t Lie blog for providing us with this holiday gem.

As the Palm Beach Post’s Jason Lieser blogged about, the Miami Heat recently had a little secret Santa gathering.

There were definitely some interesting gifts, some of them on display in a photo from LeBron James’ instagram account.

And it sounds like Mario Chalmers knows his teammate, Shane Battier, pretty well, because the veteran left the party happy after opening his gift from Chalmers:.

“Mario actually came very, very strong. I was very impressed. He knows my love for the red stuff. He got me some very, very nice bottles of wine. Opus One and a Joseph Phelps Insignia. He came very, very strong.”

Chalmers, who dished eight assists Monday in the Heat’s rout of Utah, must be embracing the giving spirit for the holidays.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pb7wgHhna2c


Keep up with all the ‘Hawks in the NBA daily, with KUsports.com stat recaps.

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Pre-draft rumors roundup (Updated: 3:18 p.m.)

Uncertainty is the unofficial theme of tonight’s NBA draft. There are only hours to go until the broadcast (6 p.m. CT, ESPN) and unlike years past, there’s no consensus on the top picks. Even the top teams easily could change, if trade rumors are true. In short: we have all the ingredients for a fun night.

Here’s what those in the know are saying about KU’s draft prospects:

Kansas freshman Ben McLemore (23) and senior Elijah Johnson (15) talk during the end of the second half on Monday February 11, 2013 in Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas freshman Ben McLemore (23) and senior Elijah Johnson (15) talk during the end of the second half on Monday February 11, 2013 in Allen Fieldhouse. by Richard Gwin

Ben McLemore

Prediction: No. 2, Orlando (Draft Express); No. 4, Charlotte (ESPN)

6/27, 3:09 p.m. — Sacramento trying to trade up for McLemore
The Kings (seventh pick) may be targeting Ben McLemore and could trade up to grab him, Yahoo’s Adrian Wojnarowski reports. According to USA Today's Sam Amick, talks have been with Phoenix at No. 5. The Sacramento front office has been a bit of a mess in recent years (see: Robinson, Thomas, trade) but with new owners and a new GM, there's some hope for the future if McLemore lands there.

6/27, 12:35 p.m. — McLemore still in play at No. 1
Several media folks are reporting that the Cavs have yet to decide on their pick at No. 1. FOX Sports Ohio's Sam Amico, who predicts McLemore to Cleveland, confirmed the Cavs were still meeting at 11:30 a.m. And Cleveland-based ESPN radio host Kenny Roda tweeted:

And I'm a little excited for the 1st time about this draft, because I'm hearing Cavs haven't ruled out Ben McLemore at this point.

But what about those previous reports about McLemore slipping? A bit of perspective from SBNation's Tom Ziller, who has McLemore heading to Orlando at No. 2:

The whole push by teams further down the top ten to convince everyone that McLemore sucks has been pretty sexy, but it's also pretty obvious to people like (Magic GM) Rob Hennigan who are in the trenches.

6/26 — Timberwolves moving up for McLemore?
ESPN reports the Minnesota Timberwolves may be looking to move from No. 9 to the top 5 in order to draft McLemore or Victor Oladipo of Indiana. That could be great news for McLemore, as earlier this week, Grantland.com pegged the Wolves as McLemore’s best fit. ESPN’s Chad Ford also argued:

Of all the teams in the draft, McLemore's best fit is Minnesota. Fits a huge need, doesn't have to be the alpha dog and has a terrific point guard to help put him in scoring positions. It's in both of their best interests to find each other.

Unfortunately for McLemore, it looks like Oladipo is Minnesota’s top choice.

6/26 — Cavs’ roster still has room for a two-guard
Some have speculated the Cleveland Cavaliers aren’t considering McLemore at No. 1 after selecting shooting guard Dion Waiters at No. 4 in last year’s draft. That may not be the case, according to ESPN’s Chad Ford, who could see McLemore in Cleveland if “The Cavs either believe that Dion Waiters' game is better suited to a sixth-man role or are trying to trade him (I've heard both).” If the Cavs draft McLemore and keep Waiters, expect this scenario to play out.

6/26 — McLemore’s representation not a big deal
Earlier reports indicated missteps by agent Rodney Blackstock might scare teams away from McLemore, but DraftExpress.com’s Jonathan Givony tweeted this Wednesday:

NBA teams telling me the concerns around Ben McLemore's agent are overblown. Exec: "He's maybe guilty of being naïve, but really who cares?"


Jeff Withey tosses a behind his back pass during warm-ups with the Jayhawks before their second-round game against Western Kentucky Friday, March 22, 2013 at the Sprint Center in Kansas City, Mo.

Jeff Withey tosses a behind his back pass during warm-ups with the Jayhawks before their second-round game against Western Kentucky Friday, March 22, 2013 at the Sprint Center in Kansas City, Mo. by Mike Yoder

Jeff Withey

Prediction: No. 28, San Antonio (Draft Express); No. 35, Philadelphia (ESPN)

6/26 — From ‘Hawks to Hawks?
Yahoo’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported that Jeff Withey worked out Wednesday for the Atlanta Hawks, who are picking 17th and 18th overall. Draft experts generally are predicting the 20s (late first round) to 30s (early second round) as Withey’s range. Other teams Withey’s worked out for include: Boston (16), Chicago (20), Utah (21), Brooklyn (22), Indiana (23), New York (24), L.A. Clippers (25), Minnesota (26), Denver (27), Phoenix (30), and Philadelphia (35).

6/25 — Draft’s best all-around big man, right now?
ESPN’s Ryan Feldman compared 10 of the draft’s top centers and power forwards by college stats, and Jeff Withey emerged as the only prospect in the top 6 of all six categories. DraftExpress.com's Kyle Nelson is also a fan of Withey's all-around game:

Jeff Withey rounds out the top-five in PER, doing a little bit of everything in his breakout senior season. Withey has just as many weaknesses as strengths, but all in all projects favorably as a role player at the next level.


Kansas teammates Travis Releford, right, and Elijah Johnson slap hands afer a Jayhawk bucket against Oklahoma during the first half on Saturday, Jan. 26, 2013 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas teammates Travis Releford, right, and Elijah Johnson slap hands afer a Jayhawk bucket against Oklahoma during the first half on Saturday, Jan. 26, 2013 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

Travis Releford and Elijah Johnson

Prediction: Undrafted (Draft Express and ESPN)

6/24 — Numbers unkind to KU prospects
It looks like the numbers aren’t fans of the other draft-eligible Jayhawks, Travis Releford and Elijah Johnson (sorry, no Kevin Young). ESPN analyst and former NBA consultant Kevin Pelton ranked the 2013 draft class by projected pro success, and unsurprisingly, Releford and Johnson ended up at the bottom of the list. Using WARP (Wins Above Replacement Player) projections, which factor in college stats, player win percentage and age, Pelton ranked Johnson 87th and Releford 89th out of ESPN’s top 100 prospects. Pelton admits the metric isn't perfect, but it’s had some predictive success in the past.

By comparison, top-5 prospect Ben McLemore ranks just 36th out of 100, with a WARP of 1.1 (2.0 usually means NBA starter; McLemore’s hurt by turnovers, low steal rate and not enough free-throws drawn). Jeff Withey is 39th, with a 1.0 WARP.

Pelton went on a Utah Jazz podcast this week and had this to say about WARP and Withey:

The WARP projection is the most important (predictor of success) because that’s the combination of the win percentage, which is how effective we can expect them to be next season, more or less, in the NBA, and their age. It’s kind of the long-term piece of this. But, also, it can be important to get an immediate contributor. So one guy that doesn’t come out well in terms of WARP projection but I still tend to like is Jeff Withey, because he’ll be a valuable player next year for you. If you’re picking in the 20s or the 30s, I think if you’re a playoff team looking for a contributor, that’s a very valuable piece.

6/22 — Releford could go second round; Johnson undrafted
KUsports.com’s Gary Bedore spoke last weekend with an NBA front-office official and asked about Releford and Johnson:

Travis Releford played well at workouts and may now be a second-round pick. "I hear he’s late 40s," the NBA official said. "The Lakers (18th pick second round) would like to have a big guard like him. I’d say it’s 50-50 whether he gets drafted." ... Elijah Johnson will not be drafted, the NBA official said. "He’s not on the radar. There’s some concern about his knee. If he asked me, I’d tell him to go to Spain and Italy and call it a day, make all that money over there tax-free.”

Teams Releford has worked out for include: Denver (29th overall), Sacramento (36), L.A. Lakers (48) and several others at a Brooklyn combine.

Teams Johnson has worked out for include: L.A. Clippers (25), Houston (34), Detroit (37, 56), Washington (38, 54), Portland (39, 40, 45), Dallas (44) and Utah (46).


Houston Rockets power forward Thomas Robinson (41) pumps his fist after scoring against the Cleveland Cavaliers during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Friday, March 22, 2013, in Houston.

Houston Rockets power forward Thomas Robinson (41) pumps his fist after scoring against the Cleveland Cavaliers during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Friday, March 22, 2013, in Houston.

Thomas Robinson

6/26 — Houston seeking Robinson trade
Yes, T-Rob, selected fifth overall by the Sacramento Kings last year, may be a name you hear during this year’s draft. The Houston Rockets are looking to shed some salary to pursue free agent center Dwight Howard, according to ESPN’s Chad Ford and Marc Stein. Cleveland and Chicago are mentioned as possible destinations, though the report says the Bulls would likely flip Robinson to another team immediately. The Houston Chronicle’s Jonathan Feigen reported that the San Antonio Spurs, led by KU-connected R.C. Buford, also have interest. Any way you slice it, T-Rob looks to be heading to his third (or fourth!) team before the start of his second NBA season.


Boston Celtics forward Paul Pierce (34) reacts in the first half of Game 5 of their first-round NBA basketball playoff series at Madison Square Garden in New York, Wednesday, May 1, 2013.

Boston Celtics forward Paul Pierce (34) reacts in the first half of Game 5 of their first-round NBA basketball playoff series at Madison Square Garden in New York, Wednesday, May 1, 2013.

Paul Pierce

6/27, 12:14 p.m. — Nets, Celtics talk Pierce, Garnett deal
Yahoo's Adrian Wojnarowski is reporting Brooklyn's interest in a trade for Boston's Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett. Woj cautions "no deal is imminent" as KG would have to waive his no-trade clause to head to the Nets. It may prove to be more than a rumor, but for now it's just further proof that Pierce's days as a Celtic are numbered.

6/25 — Boston may trade Pierce for pick or players
With coach Doc Rivers now in L.A. and Boston looking at a rebuilding period, there’s speculation that career Celtic Paul Pierce may be moved during the draft, possibly for picks. Hoopsworld’s Alex Kennedy reported that the Celtics, who only have a first-round pick, have scheduled last-minute workouts with second-round prospects. Cleveland, Milwaukee and Atlanta have been mentioned as possible trade partners. Even if Pierce isn't traded, there’s still a chance Boston will buy out his contract by June 30.


The reports are only going to pick up throughout the day today, so share ‘em if you see 'em. And remember: KUsports.com’s Matt Tait will be live from the Barclays Center later tonight.

Hold on tight.

NBA commissioner David Stern talks to the media prior to the start of the 2011 NBA basketball draft lottery, Tuesday, May 17, 2011 in Secaucus, N.J.

NBA commissioner David Stern talks to the media prior to the start of the 2011 NBA basketball draft lottery, Tuesday, May 17, 2011 in Secaucus, N.J.

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