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2014-15 season outlook: Mario Chalmers

Hunker down, get hydrated and tell your loved ones you will see them next spring.

Hopefully that’s not your mindset, but people should be warned: The at times seemingly never-ending NBA regular season is at hand.

The first handful of games tip off October 28, marking the start of the 82-game grind.

Thankfully for us, all we have to do is sit back, watch and enjoy. To make sure you’re fully prepared for the 2014-15 campaign, we’ll be rolling out a season outlook for each former Kansas University player who currently calls The Association home.

Mario Chalmers — Miami Heat

6-foot-2 guard | Seventh season

Miami Heat's Mario Chalmers (15) drives around Orlando Magic'sKyle O'Quinn (2) during the first half of a NBA basketball game in Miami, Oct. 7, 2014. (AP Photo/J Pat Carter)

Miami Heat's Mario Chalmers (15) drives around Orlando Magic'sKyle O'Quinn (2) during the first half of a NBA basketball game in Miami, Oct. 7, 2014. (AP Photo/J Pat Carter)

2013-14 numbers: 73 games | 29.8 minutes | 9.8 points | 4.9 assists | 1.6 steals | 45.4 FG% | 38.5 3-pt%

It’s safe to assume we can say goodbye to Mario Chalmers’ run of four straight NBA Finals appearances.

No longer a teammate of LeBron James, who took his talents right on back to Cleveland this past summer, Chalmers and what’s left of Miami’s former championship-contending roster could be good enough to secure a No. 4 or 5 seed in the Eastern Conference. But anything more than a trip to the second round of the playoffs? Don’t bet on it.

Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh are now the clear top options for the Heat, and the franchise replaced (a word which might not ever have been more misused than it is in this sentence) James with Luol Deng.

Chalmers started at point guard for Miami during its recent glory years, but it now appears he will be playing more of a combo guard role and possibly coming off the bench.

Also, let’s be honest, he always has been more of a combo guard than a point guard anyway. Apparently Miami and coach Erik Spoelstra are just making that label official.

In a story from the Sun-Sentinel’s Shandel Richardson, Spoelstra said there was a span in Miami’s Friday preseason game against Golden State during which Chalmers played point guard one possession and off the ball the next.

"We forced him to become a point guard," Spoelstra said. "We've developed that aspect of his game for six years … That's six years in the makings. If you're expecting a young player to do that immediately in this league, there's no chance."

According to Richardson’s story, Wade told Chalmers he plays more aggressive as a two-guard. So the at times maligned Miami guard has that going for him.

Plus, taking on this newly defined role shouldn’t be bad for the former KU standout. With Norris Cole and Shabazz Napier — Miami’s first-round pick this year — also contending for point guard minutes, this really gives Chalmers more flexibility, and probably more playing time than if they only used him at the point. Now, in theory, he would be the first guard off the bench if he doesn’t end up starting, and could play alongside Wade, Cole or Napier or whomever else Miami decides to use in its backcourt.

Still, the notion that Cole has somehow surpassed Chalmers in the NBA starting guard department even befuddled Miami beat reporter Ira Winderman, who wrote about his puzzlement with the situation in a reader mailbag. He didn’t have an answer when someone wondered how Cole had moved past Chalmers in the rotation.

Chalmers played a personal preseason high of 33 minutes Tuesday, while coming off the bench against Houston. He went 2-for-5 from 3-point range, scored 13 points, swiped four steals and passed out three assists.

But it seems he never can do enough to impress his Miami critics.

So what do we expect out of Chalmers for the 2014-15 season?

His team won’t be nearly as good as it was the past four years, but the seventh-year guard will probably have more put on his plate. And with more responsibility, Chalmers could put up career numbers while again playing for a playoff franchise.

Plus, with James out of town, Miami won’t garner nearly as much media attention. So maybe people will stop trolling/trashing Chalmers on Twitter.

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Maybe not.


’Hawks in the NBA 2014-15 season outlooks:

Cole Aldrich — Knicks

Darrell Arthur — Nuggets

Tarik Black — Rockets


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After four straight Finals appearances, should Chalmers leave Miami?

Miami Heat guard Mario Chalmers drives past Brooklyn Nets guard Deron Williams (8) during the first half of Game 2 of an Eastern Conference semifinal basketball game, Thursday, May 8, 2014 in Miami. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

Miami Heat guard Mario Chalmers drives past Brooklyn Nets guard Deron Williams (8) during the first half of Game 2 of an Eastern Conference semifinal basketball game, Thursday, May 8, 2014 in Miami. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

At this point in his career, Mario Chalmers knows all about the bright lights and hoopla of the NBA's grandest stage.

Nearing the end of his sixth season in the league, the 2008 NCAA title game hero for Kansas University is headed to the NBA Finals for the fourth year in a row with two-time defending champion Miami.

Once the Heat's series against Western Conference champion San Antonio ends, Chalmers will have a decision to make about the next phase of his career. As an unrestricted free agent, Miami's starting point guard could return with the Heat's familiar core — assuming LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh all choose to do the same — or shop his talents around, and find a new NBA home.

It might sound like an easy choice if James, Wade and Bosh are there and Miami pulls off a rare three-peat. The game probably comes a whole lot easier when you're playing with a four-time league MVP.

But there are reasons for Chalmers to consider leaving a great situation, where he has started 346 games in six seasons for Miami. As Lang Greene recently wrote for BasketballInsiders.com, Chalmers is 28 and could choose to capitalize on a more lucrative offer than Miami might be willing to offer.

The 6-foot-2 guard's current deal got him $12 million over three seasons. In his career, the second-round draft pick has earned $14,327,889. As Greene points out, he hasn't made nearly as much money in his career as Miami's other role players: Ray Allen ($184 million), Rashard Lewis ($155 million), Shane Battier ($56 million) and Udonis Haslem ($47 million).

If the rest of Miami's salary responsibilities make it difficult to financially structure a contract that gives Chalmers plenty of bang for his buck, it could make more sense for him to sign with another franchise.

Greene spoke with an anonymous former NBA veteran to get a player's perspective on the decision:

“If Chalmers has an opportunity to go get paid this summer he has to go and get the money. If he leaves the money on the table now, he also leaves his biggest opportunity to maximize his earnings on it as well. If he takes a multi-year short money deal now, he won’t get another chance at 31 or 32 [years old]. At that point he’ll be in one-year territory.”

Get paid or get rings — it's up to Chalmers. And it could be difficult to do both.

Certainly, he wouldn't have much interest in playing for a lousy franchise. So if he does move on, it will most likely be with a playoff-caliber team.

The teams with the most cap space entering the offseason are Dallas, Utah, Phoenix, Philadelphia, the Los Angeles Lakers, Detroit, Charlotte, Orlando and Cleveland.

Of those situations, Dallas, Phoenix and L.A. seem the most desirable. But in Dallas, guards Monta Ellis and Jose Calderon (both similar in size to Chalmers) are under contract. Phoenix probably provides a similar scenario, with Goran Dragic under contract and the Suns likely to re-sign restricted free agent Eric Bledsoe.

The Lakers basically only have money committed to Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash next season. Would Chalmers be interested in playing with another superstar on the opposite coast? A lot will change with L.A.'s roster between now and the start of the season, but he could be asked to play a much larger role there than he does in Miami.

He would own increased responsibilities in Detroit, Charlotte or Cleveland, too — teams that lack the broad, national appeal of L.A., but figure to contend for playoff spots in the Eastern Conference.

The other part of this equation is Miami might just decide to move on, and let Chalmers go wherever he pleases.

In Miami's 15 playoff games this year, Chalmers is averaging 7.1 points, 3.9 assists and 2.6 rebounds, and shooting 44.4% from the field and 38.9% from 3-point range.

Miami Heat guard Mario Chalmers' shot chart, through the first three rounds of the 2014 NBA Playoffs. Green = above league average for that spot on the floor; yellow = comparable to league average; red = below league average.

Miami Heat guard Mario Chalmers' shot chart, through the first three rounds of the 2014 NBA Playoffs. Green = above league average for that spot on the floor; yellow = comparable to league average; red = below league average.

The Heat, with so much money potentially wrapped up in its "Big Three" contracts, could decide to replace Chalmers with a younger, cheaper point guard option.

The Finals start Thursday night (8 p.m., ABC).


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

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Pierce’s Nets on brink of elimination vs. Chalmers’ Heat

Brooklyn Nets forward Paul Pierce (34) defends Miami Heat forward LeBron James (6) in the second half of Game 4 of their second-round NBA playoff basketball game at the Barclays Center, Monday, May 12, 2014, in New York. James tied a career playoff scoring record with 49 points as the Heat defeated the Nets 102-96 going up 3-1 in the best of seven series. (AP Photo)

Brooklyn Nets forward Paul Pierce (34) defends Miami Heat forward LeBron James (6) in the second half of Game 4 of their second-round NBA playoff basketball game at the Barclays Center, Monday, May 12, 2014, in New York. James tied a career playoff scoring record with 49 points as the Heat defeated the Nets 102-96 going up 3-1 in the best of seven series. (AP Photo)

Well, that didn't exactly go as planned.

After much was made of Brooklyn veteran Paul Pierce requesting Miami überstar LeBron James as his defensive assignment, the four-time NBA MVP torched the nets and the Nets in Game 4 Monday night for 49 points on 16-for-24 shooting.

As you would imagine, Pierce became a popular Twitter target in the aftermath of Miami's 102-96 win, which put Brooklyn in a 3-1 hole in the Eastern Conference semifinals.

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Pierce, who scored 16 points in the loss, wasn't the only Net who couldn't as much as slow down the unstoppable James. NBA.com/stats showed LeBron scored 11 while being guarded one-on-one by the Kansas University product. James made 3 of 5 shots, 1 of 2 3-pointers, drew four fouls and drove to the paint twice versus The Truth.

Still, Pierce, a longtime rival of James at this point, had to be disappointed that he couldn't lead the charge in containing the force that is LeBron.

Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated noted a few reasons why Pierce never would buddy up with The King:

James's constant complaining irks Pierce, as does his belief, league sources say, that James once tried to recruit Doc Rivers to Cleveland when Rivers was coaching the Celtics.

Publicly at least, James claimed all the hoopla over Pierce wanting to guard him didn't inspire the huge night.

“I really don’t care what Paul has to say. We don’t really get involved in that."

Game 4 was a difficult, potentially back-breaking loss for Brooklyn.

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But Pierce, as quoted by Andrew Keh of The New York Times, hasn't lost all hope.

“We’ve just got to get one game. That’s the mind-set. The series is far from over. We’ve got to go down there, try to get one game and force the series back home.”

The Nets are on the brink of elimination, in part, due to a timely pass from KU product Mario Chalmers, who dished one of his seven assists in the final minute to Chris Bosh for a 3-pointer.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jp8pYP4LhRQ

Chalmers, who had made 2 of 3 bombs of his own and scored 8 points, passed up a shot for an even better look.

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The Heat will try to close out the series in Game 5 Wednesday night at Miami (6 p.m., TNT).

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

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Markieff Morris a leading candidate for sixth man award

Phoenix Suns' Markieff Morris (11) reacts to a three pointer against the Oklahoma City Thunder during the second half of an NBA basketball game, Thursday, March 6, 2014, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Matt York)

Phoenix Suns' Markieff Morris (11) reacts to a three pointer against the Oklahoma City Thunder during the second half of an NBA basketball game, Thursday, March 6, 2014, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Matt York)

Don't be surprised in a few weeks if you see the following phrase scroll across the bottom of your television screen or pop up on your social media feeds: Phoenix's Markieff Morris named NBA Sixth Man of the Year.

All season long, the Suns — expected by some to be one of the worst teams in the league — have surprised the rest of the Association. But it didn't take long for it to become abundantly clear their early-season success wasn't a fluke. Now Phoenix (46-31), fresh off a 122-115 home win over Oklahoma City on Sunday night, has a legit shot at claiming one of the final three playoff spots in the highly competitive Western Conference.

And Phoenix, the West's worst team last season, couldn't have made such a turnaround without Morris — averaging 13.7 points and 6.0 rebounds in 26.4 minutes a game off the bench.

Morris hasn't started a single game for the Suns all season. That's because first-year coach Jeff Hornacek can trust him to produce as a sub.

Ben York of Suns.com recently wrote a case could be made for Morris (Markieff, not twin brother Marcus, who also comes off the bench for Phoenix and averages 9.8 points and 3.9 rebounds in 22.0 minutes) as the NBA's most valuable reserve.

In his third season, Markieff is having a career year. His best game, York points out, came in January against Cleveland:

Morris tallied 27 points and a season-high 15 rebounds off the bench to become the first player in the NBA since Yao Ming of the Houston Rockets on Nov. 21, 2002 to record at least 27 points and 15 rebounds in a game while coming off the bench.

His line was the first 27/15 by a Suns player since Amar’e Stoudemire on March 28, 2010, and he joins Stoudemire and Shawn Marion as the only Suns since 1998-99 to do so.

Those around the Phoenix organization aren't the only ones thinking Markieff could bring home some hardware, either.

At SheridanHoops.com, holds the at No. 1 spot in the sixth man rankings, followed by Chicago's Taj Gibson, Oklahoma Citys' Reggie Jackson, San Antonio's Manu Ginobili and Dallas' Vince Carter.


Henry's breakout season officially over

Los Angeles Lakers forward Xavier Henry, right, puts up a shot as San Antonio Spurs center Tiago Splitter, left, of Brazil, and guard Patty Mills, of Australia, defend during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Wednesday, March 19, 2014, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

Los Angeles Lakers forward Xavier Henry, right, puts up a shot as San Antonio Spurs center Tiago Splitter, left, of Brazil, and guard Patty Mills, of Australia, defend during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Wednesday, March 19, 2014, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

The Los Angeles Lakers (25-52) are so awful, there really isn't any reason for them to send hurt or worn down players out on the court.

They are lottery-bound, so the more losses, the better. In a move that should help facilitate as high a draft pick as possible, the Lakers announced Friday they're shutting Xavier Henry down for the remainder of the season.

Wrist and knee injuries suffered this season, Mike Bresnahan of the Los Angeles Times reported, will keep Henry sidelined for the final few games of what had been a breakout season (10.0 points in 43 games).

Offseason procedures to help his right knee and left wrist are possible, Henry told Bresnahan.

"My body is going to continually hurt as long as I keep pounding it and pounding it. It's tough to play with."

The L.A. Times reporter also asked Henry about his future with the Lakers, because he will become a free agent in the offseason.

"I hope to be here. I hope they want me, but you never know."

As Shams Charania wrote for RealGM.com, Henry took on the challenge of playing while hurt late in the weeks leading up to L.A.'s move. Henry's decision to do gut it out for a while came in part because of what this season has meant to him.

“I just didn’t get the same opportunity and the same playing time in the past. I hurt myself early in my career … but I didn’t get the same kind of opportunities that I have now and I’m trying to make the most of every one that I get.”

Henry shot 41.7% from the field and 34.6% on 3-pointers this season with Los Angeles.


Mario Chalmers: 'I always wanted to be a Tar Heel'

Miami Heat guard Mario Chalmers (15) goes up for a shot against New York Knicks forward Amar'e Stoudemire (1) during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Sunday, April 6, 2014, in Miami. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

Miami Heat guard Mario Chalmers (15) goes up for a shot against New York Knicks forward Amar'e Stoudemire (1) during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Sunday, April 6, 2014, in Miami. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

With a little help from Kansas basketball hero Mario Chalmers, Miami seems on its way to the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference.

In his last eight games, the sixth-year pro has outperformed his season averages, hitting 52% of his shots and producing 14.3 points and 4.0 rebounds, plus 4.0 assists (which is below his season average of 5.0).

Recently, Chalmers sat down for a Q & A with SLAM Magazine's Abe Schwadron. He talked about his upbringing in Alaska and also shared an interesting tidbit regarding his college recruitment:

"I wanted to go to North Carolina. I grew up a fan, my family is from North Carolina and I always wanted to be a Tar Heel. When the time came to make my decision, North Carolina didn’t offer me. So Kansas, I thought, was the best place for me to go out there and shine. I had a couple friends that I got close with during the recruiting visits. They made me feel at home, made me feel like a brother."

Of course, Chalmers capped his third year at Kansas by helping the Jayhawks win the 2008 national championship. He was asked to rank that accomplishment, compared to contributing to back-to-back NBA titles with the Heat.

"It’s up there. I’d say it’s a tie, really. In college, it’s one game, in the NBA, it was five games and then it was seven games. It’s different, but it still ranks the same in my book. Just the process of being there three years, and having to go from one year losing in the first round to losing in the Sweet 16 and then finally to win it. I just remember how much hard work we put in."

You can tell Chalmers doesn't regret his decision to play at KU. Look no further than what he posted on Instagram Monday: "6 years ago on this day we had a major accomplishment. Not only for ourselves and KU but for the entire city of Lawrence , Kansas. This is and will always be apart of me. ROCK CHALK JAYHAWKS"

6 years ago on this day we had a major accomplishment. Not only for ourselves and KU but for the entire city of Lawrence , Kansas. This is and will always be apart of me. ROCK CHALK JAYHAWKS

6 years ago on this day we had a major accomplishment. Not only for ourselves and KU but for the entire city of Lawrence , Kansas. This is and will always be apart of me. ROCK CHALK JAYHAWKS by mchalmers15


'Hawks in the NBA standings

We're now just nine days away from the last day of the 82-game 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 (55-21)

  • Currently No. 2 seed in West

  • Clinched Northwest Division title/playoff berth

No. 2 — Mario Chalmers/Miami (53-23)

  • Currently No. 1 seed in East

  • Clinched Southeast Division title/playoff berth

No. 3 — Thomas Robinson/Portland (50-28)

  • Currently No. 5 seed in West

  • Clinched playoff berth

No. 4 — Markieff Morris & Marcus Morris/Phoenix (46-31)

  • Currently No. 8 seed in West, with one-game lead on Memphis

No. 5 — Kirk Hinrich/Chicago (45-32)

  • Currently No. 4 seed in East

  • Clinched playoff berth

No. 6 — Paul Pierce/Brooklyn (42-34)

  • Currently No. 5 seed in East

  • Clinched playoff berth

No. 7 — Drew Gooden/Washington (40-37)

  • Currently No. 6 seed in East

  • Clinched playoff berth

No. 8 — Darrell Arthur/Denver (33-44)

  • 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 (32-45)

  • Eliminated from playoff contention in West

No. 11 — Ben McLemore/Sacramento (27-50)

  • Eliminated from playoff contention in West

No. 12 — Xavier Henry/L.A. Lakers (25-52)

  • Eliminated from playoff contention in West

No. 13 — Brandon Rush/Utah (24-53)

  • 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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Mr. Confidence: Chalmers more comfortable than ever in Miami

Miami Heat point guard Mario Chalmers (15) drives around Oklahoma City Thunder power forward Serge Ibaka (9) during an NBA basketball game in Miami, Wednesday, Jan. 29, 2014. (AP PhotoAlan Diaz)

Miami Heat point guard Mario Chalmers (15) drives around Oklahoma City Thunder power forward Serge Ibaka (9) during an NBA basketball game in Miami, Wednesday, Jan. 29, 2014. (AP PhotoAlan Diaz)

Mario Chalmers never lacks in the confidence department when he steps foot on the basketball court.

So it should come as no surprise that the Miami Heat's complementary guard took his answer into another stratosphere when asked by Shandel Richardson of The Sun Sentinel to rank his current comfort level on the floor, from 1 to 10.

"It's at 1,000," Chalmers said. "Just being around these guys three or four years, it's really helped me a lot. I just know where to put the ball where they need it."


Those who watch the Heat on a day-to-day basis think this could be the best season of Chalmers' career — he averages 9.8 points and 5.1 assists while shooting 46.7% from the floor.

Miami coach Erik Spoelstra spoke highly of Chalmers in Richardson's story, noting the sixth-year guard's ability to take on more responsibilities when the Heat are without key players, such as Dwyane Wade, Ray Allen or LeBron James.

"He's a capable playmaker. He's become a lot headier on which plays to make, whether he's facilitating, whether he's being aggressive or he's setting other people up. That takes experience … He's grown tremendously."


That's what playing in three straight NBA Finals and winning the last two league championships can do for a player.

And clearly the whole Heat roster has latched onto that level of swagger. Chalmers posted a photo of Miami's players decked out with WWE championship belts on his Instagram account — mchalmers15.

Apparently James hooked up the whole team with the wrestling-style hardware. Hopefully they won't resort to hitting opponents with steel chairs any time soon.


T-Rob block party

Utah Jazz guard Trey Burke, right, shoots over Portland Trail Blazers forward Thomas Robinson during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Portland, Ore., Friday, Feb. 21, 2014. (AP Photo/Don Ryan)

Utah Jazz guard Trey Burke, right, shoots over Portland Trail Blazers forward Thomas Robinson during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Portland, Ore., Friday, Feb. 21, 2014. (AP Photo/Don Ryan)

Does one highlight deserve its own section in a blog?

Well, this offering from Thomas Robinson might have deserved its own website.

In case you missed it — you know, the way Corey Brewer missed out on making it all the way to the rim once Robinson chased him down on Sunday in a Blazers victory — here is the denial that turned into a fast-break jam for Portland.

The monstrous block only made up a small portion of Robinson's dominant night off the bench, as he finished with 14 points and 18 boards in 33 minutes.

But, obviously, the media — including the Oregonian's Joe Freeman — wanted to talk with Robinson about the denial, which led set up a Wesley Matthews lob to Will Barton on the other end of the floor.

Robinson told reporters how it went down — and referenced a technical foul he earned for taunting Brewer after the alley-oop that sent the Portland fans into a frenzy.

“I just knew it was a timing thing,” Robinson said of his block. “I saw him on the break, I sized him up, and I went to go get it. I don’t know how to explain it. Adrenaline shot through me, I was hype, probably said a bunch of stuff. I don’t remember what I said.”


Robinson, who averages 4.4 points and 4.1 rebounds in his second season, had seen a jump in minutes with Portland All-Star forward Lamarcus Aldridge out due to a groin injury.

Unfortunately for the power forward from Kansas, he injured his knee in Portland's next game, against Denver, and is a game-time decision for a Wednesday night meeting with Brooklyn, reports Sean Meagher of The Oregonian.


Henry close to a return

Los Angeles Lakers forward Xavier Henry, left, battles Minnesota Timberwolves guard J.J. Barea for a loose ball during the second half of an NBA basketball game in Los Angeles, Friday, Dec. 20, 2013. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)

Los Angeles Lakers forward Xavier Henry, left, battles Minnesota Timberwolves guard J.J. Barea for a loose ball during the second half of an NBA basketball game in Los Angeles, Friday, Dec. 20, 2013. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)

Xavier Henry hasn't played a basketball game in 2014, but that could soon change for the fourth-year guard out of Kansas.

Dave McMenamin of ESPNLosAngeles.com reported Henry, who was diagnosed with an abnormality of the lateral meniscus in his right knee, has been "ramping up his workouts" and could return to L.A.'s lineup within the next few days.

McMenamin asked Henry how his knee felt on Tuesday.

"No pain. It just feels good. Now that I'm getting to work out, I can get it strong without having to worry about it swelling up because it hasn't swelled up yet too bad. So, it's doing pretty well."


Henry, in the midst of a breakout season (10.1 points, 42.5% shooting) before suffering an injury the last week of December, told McMenamin he is past suffering a similar setback with his knee after missing almost two full months worth of games.


10 talk

A number of 'Hawks in the NBA tweeted out congratulations after Kansas earned a share of its 10th straight Big 12 title on Monday.

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None by Keef Morris

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None by Cole Aldrich

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None by Ben McLemore


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

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Obama pardons Chalmers for on-court mistakes

Miami Heat's Chris Bosh, right, yells while talking with Mario Chalmers (15) during the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Cleveland Cavaliers on Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2012, in Miami. The Heat defeated the Cavaliers 92-85. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

Miami Heat's Chris Bosh, right, yells while talking with Mario Chalmers (15) during the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Cleveland Cavaliers on Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2012, in Miami. The Heat defeated the Cavaliers 92-85. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

In case you haven't been keeping up with the team dynamics of the defending NBA champion Miami Heat, well, Mario Chalmers gets yelled at. A lot. (See above photo of Chris "Velociraptor" Bosh in the face of his prey.)

Poor Rio. When he played at Allen Fieldhouse, thousands of adoring fans screamed for him. Now the most popular player on the planet howls at him. Look how enraged team/NBA alpha dog LeBron James gets with Chalmers during this timeout against the Indiana Pacers in late December:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c5jXkcD_56Q

Hey, don't worry about it, people. Bron was sorry.

This is nothing new for Chalmers, of course. Even Bosh, the least revered member of the Heat's "Big Three," has turned shouting distance into close-talking with the sixth-year point guard on national television…

Multiple times.

Finally, on Tuesday, someone with clout had Chalmers' back. During the Heat's trip to the White House, when President Barack Obama honored the NBA's back-to-back champions, the commander-in-chief couldn't pass up an opportunity to give the Heat grief about the way they jump all over Chalmers.

Congratulations to Chalmers on the presidential pardon for his on-court miscues.

President Barack Obama holds a basketball and Miami Heat basketball jersey and shakes hands with Miami Heat player Ray Allen during a ceremony in the East Room of the White House in Washington,, Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2014, where the president honored the 2013 NBA Champion basketball team on their second-straight title. Behind them are Miami Heat forward LeBron James, team president Pat Riley is second from left, Miami Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra is at left. . (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

President Barack Obama holds a basketball and Miami Heat basketball jersey and shakes hands with Miami Heat player Ray Allen during a ceremony in the East Room of the White House in Washington,, Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2014, where the president honored the 2013 NBA Champion basketball team on their second-straight title. Behind them are Miami Heat forward LeBron James, team president Pat Riley is second from left, Miami Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra is at left. . (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

See. Now all the Heat are happy. Thanks, Obama.


Not so fast, Xavier

Los Angeles Lakers forward Xavier Henry, left, shoots past Miami Heat's Mario Chalmers, right, and Chris Andersen during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Los Angeles, Wednesday, Dec. 25, 2013. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)

Los Angeles Lakers forward Xavier Henry, left, shoots past Miami Heat's Mario Chalmers, right, and Chris Andersen during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Los Angeles, Wednesday, Dec. 25, 2013. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)

When Los Angeles Lakers shooting guard Xavier Henry got diagnosed with a knee injury back on Dec. 30, the one-and-done KU product figured he would be back in the lineup within a week to 10 days.

In this update from Eric Pincus of the L.A. Times, though, it appears Henry could be sidelined longer than anticipated:

According to a team spokesman, Henry experienced knee soreness on Monday after running through an on-court workout on Sunday. Henry will spend the next several days doing non-weight-bearing exercises.


Pincus reported Henry, averaging a career best 10.1 points a game this season, doesn't have a return date anymore for the slumping Lakers (14-25).

And ESPNLosAngeles.com's Dave McMenamin wrote Tuesday night Henry will be out "at least a week" due to a bone bruise in the swingman's right knee.

On Monday night, Henry hinted at his frustrations via Twitter:

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Markieff bounces back

Phoenix Suns' Markieff Morris (11) shouts in celebration after scoring over Los Angeles Lakers' Ryan Kelly (4) during the second half of an NBA basketball game Wednesday, Jan. 15, 2014, in Phoenix. The Suns defeated the Lakers 121-114. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

Phoenix Suns' Markieff Morris (11) shouts in celebration after scoring over Los Angeles Lakers' Ryan Kelly (4) during the second half of an NBA basketball game Wednesday, Jan. 15, 2014, in Phoenix. The Suns defeated the Lakers 121-114. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

After enduring a scoreless outing and an ejection in Phoenix's previous two games, Suns backup power forward Markieff Morris returned to the land of productive NBA players Wednesday with 24 points, seven rebounds and four assists in the Suns' 121-114 victory over the L.A. Lakers.

The Bright Side of the Sun blog called Markieff the team's barometer — when he plays well, the Suns have success — but the big from Kansas didn't get an A+ overall:

Markieff Morris was the Suns best player early, tallying 9 points and an assist in his first 6 minutes of play. He still forced a lot of fallaways and played poor defense in the post.

And even though Markieff redeemed himself from a production standpoint, his twin Marcus (two points, three rebounds) picked up his bro's slack in the technical department, earning a whistle on this scuffle, which happened to follow a Markieff dunk, as the Suns failed to get back in transition:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MP34H0oQL3Q


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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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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


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Pierce returns off bench, beats former team

Boston Celtics guard Jeff Green (8) and Celtics forward Kris Humphries (43) defend Brooklyn Nets forward Paul Pierce (34) in the second half of their their NBA basketball game, Tuesday, Dec. 10, 2013, in New York. The Nets defeated the Celtics 104-96. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

Boston Celtics guard Jeff Green (8) and Celtics forward Kris Humphries (43) defend Brooklyn Nets forward Paul Pierce (34) in the second half of their their NBA basketball game, Tuesday, Dec. 10, 2013, in New York. The Nets defeated the Celtics 104-96. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

It finally happened. Not that Paul Pierce ever intended for things to go down this way, exactly, but the 16-year veteran, in his 1,118th NBA game, played against the Boston Celtics for the very first time Tuesday night in Brooklyn.

Now a member of the Nets, Pierce had missed the previous four games with a broken bone in his right hand, so he came off the bench in his not-so-storybook showdown with his former team, which traded him away to build for the future.

The (hurt) Truth at least got the win after playing 22 minutes, going 0-for-3 from the field and finishing with four points, seven rebounds and three assists. But it was the return of another once ailing Net, point guard Deron Williams, that led Brooklyn to a 104-96 home win.

Pierce served as a sub for just the fourth time in his illustrious career and didn't appear to be 100 percent (he wore a protective glove of sorts on his hand), but he proved he could still make plays, with this dish to Nets big man Andray Blatche.

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

One might assume Pierce only came back at this point so he could do damage against his former team. However, the veteran called the timing a "coincidence" in a story from Newsday's Roderick Boone:

"My whole focus was about getting back healthy, coming out trying to help my team, establishing something at home. It just happens to be a coincidence that the day I come back is against the Celtics. It will probably be a little bit more emotional when I go back to Boston. We already had a preseason game against them. I already had a chance to holler at them in the preseason."


It's hard to imagine a guy with 24,211 career regular-season points to his name could become a backup, but his first-year coach, Jason Kidd, hinted the struggling Nets (7-14) could use Pierce in that role, according to a story from Stefan Bondy in the New York Daily News:

“I liked him being a leader with that second group,” Kidd said. “Will it stay that way? I don’t know. We will look at the video tomorrow as a team and coaches. I will talk to Paul and see what his comfort level is, but I would like to get him back, give him more minutes and get him used to that glove.”


We'll have to wait and see how long that takes, and if the highly touted Nets can start living up to their hype with the help of the former Jayhawks star.


Super Morris Bros.

Phoenix Suns' Marcus Morris (15) shoots over Memphis Grizzlies' Mike Miller (13) in the first half of an NBA basketball game in Memphis, Tenn., Tuesday, Dec. 3, 2013. (AP Photo/Danny Johnston)

Phoenix Suns' Marcus Morris (15) shoots over Memphis Grizzlies' Mike Miller (13) in the first half of an NBA basketball game in Memphis, Tenn., Tuesday, Dec. 3, 2013. (AP Photo/Danny Johnston)

In the ongoing battle to see who is the superior Morris twin off of the Phoenix Suns' bench, Marcus took another step forward Tuesday night.

His twin brother, Markieff (13.0 points, 6.2 rebounds), has stood out most of the season thus far for the surprising Suns (12-9), but Marcus (11.0 points, 4.9 rebounds) had another breakout game in Phoenix's 114-108 win at the Los Angeles Lakers. Mook (is that short for Marcus? I don't know, but his Twitter handle is @MookMorris2) made 10 of his 13 shots in the Phoenix win and scored a season-high 22 points.

Paul Coro, of azcentral.com, called it Marcus's best game of the season, noting the 6-foot-9 Wonder Twin exploits bigger power forwards when the Suns go small ball. In those situations, Marcus said, his larger defenders tend to back off on the perimeter, in order to better defend potential drives.

“Little do they know, that’s what I want,” Morris said. “I work on (jumpers) every day with Mark (West, Suns assistant coach).”


The Morrii, Coro pointed out, scored 11 straight points for the Suns late. And Markieff didn't have a bad game, either, with 15 points, seven rebounds and three assists.

Good thing Marcus was looking out for him.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kAjp6xVoS_Y


Chalmers a surefire hall-of-famer (in Alaska)

Indiana Pacers guard George Hill, right, defends Miami Heat guard Mario Chalmers in the second half of an NBA basketball game in Indianapolis, Tuesday, Dec. 10, 2013. The Pacers defeated the Heat 90-84. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

Indiana Pacers guard George Hill, right, defends Miami Heat guard Mario Chalmers in the second half of an NBA basketball game in Indianapolis, Tuesday, Dec. 10, 2013. The Pacers defeated the Heat 90-84. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

NBA fans got to see the season's first marquee matchup of the Eastern Conference Tuesday night, when the Miami Heat played at the Indiana Pacers.

In the first of what figures to be numerous battles (regular-season and playoffs) between the clear-cut favorites of the East, Mario Chalmers had kind of a rough night in a 90-84 loss.

The sixth-year guard out of Kansas shot 3-for-7, had nine points, two steals, two assists and two turnovers for the two-time defending champion Heat (16-6) against the league's current top team, Indiana (19-3).

These in-game tweets from the media reveal a little more about what Chalmers endured.



Chalmers at least served up a highlight dish in the final minutes — not that it will win him any notoriety.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G2wW5_C0zOU

The Anchorage, Alaska, native's past performances earned him some distinction, though. He received some good news before the game: Chalmers will be inducted into the Alaska Sports Hall of Fame.

And, hey, even after a disappointing loss, things could be worse: Chalmers could spend his winters in Minnesota, instead of Miami.



Before we wrap things up, just for good measure, here's Ben McLemore in a Sacramento Kings Santa hat doing good.


— Don't forget to check out our daily 'Hawks in the NBA stat recaps here at KUsports.com.

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