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Report: Thomas Robinson to sign with Brooklyn Nets

Denver Nuggets forward Wilson Chandler, left, guards Portland Trail Blazers forward Thomas Robinson (41) during the second half of an NBA basketball game Wednesday, Nov. 12, 2014, in Denver. The Trail Blazers won 130-113. (AP Photo/Jack Dempsey)

Denver Nuggets forward Wilson Chandler, left, guards Portland Trail Blazers forward Thomas Robinson (41) during the second half of an NBA basketball game Wednesday, Nov. 12, 2014, in Denver. The Trail Blazers won 130-113. (AP Photo/Jack Dempsey)

About that Thomas Robinson to Denver trade.

Yeah, it happened. But, no, the 23-year-old former Kansas standout won’t be playing for the Nuggets.

In the hours that followed Robinson getting dealt from Portland to Denver on Thursday, rumors of a possible buyout of his contract emerged. By Sunday, the Nuggets had waived Robinson.

So where does the high-energy power forward go from here?

Well, Yahoo’s Adrian Wojnarowski reports Robinson is Brooklyn-bound.

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Robinson confirmed as much via Twitter Monday afternoon.

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Now in his third season in the league, Robinson already has called Sacramento, Houston and Portland home. Denver will just be a footnote by the time his career ends, as the Nets become his fourth NBA team.

It has to be better than finishing out the season with the Nuggets (20-35).

According to RealGM.com’s Shams Charania, Robinson spoke with defending NBA champion San Antonio (34-21, seventh in Western Conference), Brooklyn (22-31, eighth in Eastern Conference), Phoenix (29-27, ninth out West), Miami (23-31, seventh in East) and Charlotte (22-32, 0.5 games out of eighth place in East).

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The most intriguing options appeared to be playing with the Spurs or Suns.

San Antonio, of course, is a threat to win the championship every single season, and Robinson could have learned from some all-time greats in Tim Duncan and coach Gregg Popovich. But where would he have fit into the Spurs’ rotation? Duncan plays about 30 minutes a game inside, while Boris Diaw, Tiago Splitter, Aron Baynes and Matt Bonner are veteran frontcourt guys who know San Antonio’s system.

The Suns, on the other hand, might not make the playoffs. They’re 2 games behind Oklahoma City for the No. 8 seed, and 5.5 games behind San Antonio. It’s hard to imagine a scenario in which the Spurs or Thunder falls out, barring an injury to one of their stars. But Phoenix has Robinson’s crew from KU, Marcus and Markieff Morris.

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It seemed Robinson, if Phoenix was interested in him, could have slid into the Suns’ frontcourt rotation, with the Morrii and Alex Len.

Instead, Robinson will play for his first Eastern Conference team, in Brooklyn.

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The Nets are one of six teams vying for the final two available spots in the Eastern Conference Playoffs. Miami, Brooklyn, Detroit, Indiana, Charlotte and Boston all are with in 2.5 games of each other in the standings, between seventh and 12th place, with roughly 30 games to go.

Robinson had averaged 3.6 points and 4.2 rebounds in just 12.2 minutes this season in Portland. If he’s willing to go play with Brooklyn, you have to assume they promised him far more time on the court.

Brooklyn bigs Brook Lopez and Mason Plumlee aren’t going anywhere, so backup power forward Mirza Teletovic appears to be Robinson’s primary competition in terms of minutes. Also, the Nets could use newly acquired Thaddeus Young as a stretch-4.

We’ll see how Robinson’s latest situation works out for him.

Wojnarowski reports his deal with the Nets is a 10-day contract that will be extended through the end of the season.

Remember, it looks like Robinson still will become a free agent this summer, so if Brooklyn isn’t a fit either, he could pursue other options soon. But Wojnarowski reports the Nets could be interested in him long-term.


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


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Thomas Robinson dealt to Denver Nuggets

FILE — Portland Trail Blazers forward Thomas Robinson dunks against the Milwaukee Bucks during the first half of an NBA basketball game Saturday, Jan. 31, 2015, in Milwaukee. (AP Photo/Darren Hauck)

FILE — Portland Trail Blazers forward Thomas Robinson dunks against the Milwaukee Bucks during the first half of an NBA basketball game Saturday, Jan. 31, 2015, in Milwaukee. (AP Photo/Darren Hauck)

It’s official. Thomas Robinson is headed to Denver, meaning the third-year power forward is about to play for his fourth team.

But the deal was not for Wilson Chandler, as early rumors indicated.

Yahoo’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported Thursday, a few hours before the NBA trade deadline, the former Kansas star is part of a swap between Portland and the Nuggets that landed the Trail Blazers veteran guard Aaron Afflalo to bolster their push toward the postseason.

Drafted by Sacramento, traded to Houston as a rookie, then moved again to Portland before the start of his second year, Robinson turned in some positive moments in a Trail Blazers uniform this season, including a double-double in his first career start. For the most part, though, he never became a factor or a significant part of the rotation.

The 6-foot-10 power forward from KU only played in 32 of 53 games and averaged 3.6 points (a career low) and 4.2 rebounds while hitting 51.6% of his shots in 12.2 minutes a game this season for Portland. He had DNP’s in three of the last five games.

There might be more available minutes for Robinson, a free-agent-to-be, in the Mile High City. The Nuggets have a couple of talented young big men in Kenneth Faried and Jusuf Nurkic starting, but Wojnarowski reported Denver shipped backup post player JaVale McGee to Philadelphia.

Robinson might actually have to beat out another former KU standout for playing time in Denver. Darrell Arthur plays 17.9 minutes a game off the bench and is averaging 7.5 points and 3.2 rebounds in 44 appearances.

J.J. Hickson, another Denver backup big, could be another obstacle for Robinson’s minutes — if the Nuggets don’t deal Hickson before the end of the day.


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


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Andrew Wiggins lone KU representative for All-Star Weekend

Minnesota Timberwolves forward Andrew Wiggins (22) pushes up to the basket against New Orleans Pelican center Omer Asik (3) during the second half of an NBA basketball game, Friday, Jan. 23, 2015, in Minneapolis. The Pelicans won 92-84. (AP Photo/Stacy Bengs)

Minnesota Timberwolves forward Andrew Wiggins (22) pushes up to the basket against New Orleans Pelican center Omer Asik (3) during the second half of an NBA basketball game, Friday, Jan. 23, 2015, in Minneapolis. The Pelicans won 92-84. (AP Photo/Stacy Bengs)

Looking for a ’Hawks in the NBA fix this All-Star Weekend?

Your options are limited. That is, you only have one.

Of the 15 Kansas basketball players currently active in the Association, only one earned a spot in the league’s myriad of made-for-TV events this weekend in New York.

You won’t see a KU product in the All-Star Game. Paul Pierce (12.5 points, 4.3 rebounds, 2.0 assists this season with Washington) is too old. Markieff Morris (15.1 points, 6.0 rebounds, 2.0 assists with Phoenix) isn’t quite there, and plays in the loaded Western Conference.

You won’t find a Jayhawk in the slam dunk contest this weekend, either. (Though Andrew Wiggins obviously would have been an intriguing challenger.)


Not the Foot Locker Three-Point Contest.

Not even the Taco Bell Skills Challenge, nor the Degree Shooting Stars competition. (Yes, those are things that apparently exist.)

But you can watch Minnesota prodigy Wiggins in the Rising Stars Challenge — 8 p.m., Friday night on TNT.

It used to be that a team of rookies faced a team of second-year players in this showcase, and the league tried changing the setup before, but this year marks the first time for a brand new format: The U.S. vs. The World.

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Canadian native Wiggins headlines the World Team, which also features Milwaukee’s Giannis Antetokounmpo, aka “The Greek Freak.”

The international up-and-comers will face the U.S. Team, featuring Philadelphia’s Michael Carter-Williams (the reigning Rookie of the Year) and Nerlens Noel, Orlando’s Victor Oladipo and Wiggins’ Minnesota teammate Zach LaVine, among others.

While Ben McLemore put on quite a show in the dunk contest last season, he didn’t get asked back to that event, or to represent his country in the Rising Stars game. So Wiggins is all KU fans of the NBA have to look forward to.

The 6-foot-8, soon to be 20-year-old (birthday coming up on Feb. 23) began playing at a higher level in January. And while his production has leveled off since finishing last month with a career-high 33 points against Cleveland, the team that drafted him, look at his numbers since Jan. 1:

18.0 points, 4.9 rebounds, 2.6 assists, 1.3 steals, 2.0 turnovers, 45.9% FGs, 32.7% 3s, 79.6% FTs in 38.7 minutes.

Wiggins’ recent uptick has impressed many around the NBA, and his game became the subject of a TrueHoopTV blog earlier this week on ESPN.

While David Thorpe said the “Rising Stars” showcase for first- and second-year players doesn’t actually feature a whole lot of talent, Wiggins will be one of the exceptions.

“He’s amazing. He doesn’t really know what he’s doing yet, but he knows more than what he did,” Thorpe said, noting the rookie’s ability to post up, hit jumpers from mid-range and beyond the 3-point line and come up with difficult offensive rebounds.

“He’s attacking crowds and making plays above the crowd,” Thorpe said, “which he is capable of doing.”

The TrueHoop analyst who spends a lot of time focusing on the NBA’s young guys also said Wiggins is playing harder now than he did the first couple weeks of the season, and the amazingly athletic small forward now better understands how to get to the middle of the paint.

If opponents try and defend Wiggins with a smaller player, Thorpe added, he will square up and shoot over him before help comes, and Wiggins makes it look easy.

Facing the league’s top team Wednesday, Wiggins didn’t have an amazing game by any means, scoring just 6 points on 3-for-7 shooting in 38 minutes versus Golden State. But he kept the young, struggling Timberwolves (11-42, last in the Western Conference) competitive in a 94-91 loss.

First-year Golden State coach Steve Kerr, whose Warriors own the league’s best record, at 42-9, said before the game between the two teams on the opposite end of the NBA’s power spectrum Wiggins is a shoo-in for Rookie of the Year.

“I don’t even know who else would be in the conversation,” Kerr said. “He’s going to be an All-Star (in the future). He’s a terrific player, a good talent, and it looks like he’s figuring out the NBA game. … He’s really going to be a good player.”

Here’s a look at some of what the young star-in-the-making already has done to grab the league’s attention.


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


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Jacque Vaughn focused on coaching Magic, not rumors or speculation

Orlando Magic's head coach Jacque Vaughn coaches against Boston Celtics during the second half of an NBA basketball game in Orlando, Fla, Tuesday, Dec. 23, 2014. (AP Photo/Willie J. Allen Jr.)

Orlando Magic's head coach Jacque Vaughn coaches against Boston Celtics during the second half of an NBA basketball game in Orlando, Fla, Tuesday, Dec. 23, 2014. (AP Photo/Willie J. Allen Jr.)

When Jacque Vaughn accepted the position of head coach of the Orlando Magic before the 2012-13 season, he knew the organization had a long way to go to reach respectability.

The former Kansas point guard, who went on to play 12 seasons in the NBA with Utah, Atlanta, Orlando, New Jersey and San Antonio, joined the organization at the ground floor of a major overhaul. That’s why the Magic didn’t overreact and fire the young coach — who landed the gig after spending two years as a Spurs assistant — when the team struggled in Vaughn’s first two seasons (20-62, then 23-59) down in Mickey Mouse Land.

Now in Year 3, the young Magic have shown promise at times, but Orlando has lost six straight and 11 of 14.

The Magic’s most recent struggles, Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel reported, have led some of the team’s fans to call for Vaughn’s dismissal.

Orlando (13-27) currently is tied with Boston for 11th in the mostly wide-open Eastern Conference and sits in fifth place in the five-team Southeast Division (comprised of Atlanta, Washington, Miami, Charlotte and the Magic).

However, Vaughn told the Sentinel he isn’t worried about what outsiders think of the job he’s doing and he avoids reading about rumors and speculation.

"I'm not on social media,” Vaughn said. “And the great thing is I do my job as hard as I can every single day, and I'll always keep it that way. I keep it that simple. I don't complicate it. What I do know is, since Day One, since I accepted this job, everything I've done has been for this organization and it'll continue to be that way."

Robbins reports that the Magic have expectations for improvement this season, with young players such as Tobias Harris, Nikola Vucevic, Victor Oladipo and Evan Fournier (Vucevic is 24 and the other three are 22 years old) gaining experience.

While Orlando is 5-4 in games decided by 3 points or less, it is 10-11 against teams that are below .500. That’s where much of the criticism originates.

The Sentinel lists “head-scratching” Magic losses to teams such as Boston, Utah, Philadelphia, Charlotte, Detroit and the L.A. Lakers as signs Orlando has lost its way recently.

Harris, though, doesn’t agree with disgruntled fans pointing their fingers at Vaughn.

"I think for us as a team we need to turn it around, not just for Coach but for ourselves," Harris told the Sentinel. "At the end of the day, Coach can't come on the floor. He can't box out for you. He can't dive on the floor for you. Nobody on the staff can get on the floor and go out there and out-hustle somebody and play with a passion and a heart for you as a player.”

Harris went on to speak of Vaughn’s passion behind the scenes, as well as the coach putting in long hours to study game video.

Vucevic also defended the 39-year-old man in charge.

"You can't blame it on Jacque," Vucevic told the Sentinel. "We're the guys out there playing. You can't say that it's Jacque's fault. The effort has to come from us. He can't control that. He can give us plays and X's-and-O's and all that, but if we don't come out with any effort ... it's not going to do anything.”

The Magic had two lottery picks in the 2014 Draft and picked up 20-year-old point guard Elfrid Payton (Louisiana-Lafayette) and 19-year-old forward Aaron Gordon (Arizona). Injured early in the season, Gordaon has only played 11 games.

The schedule doesn’t get any easier for Orlando coming up. Its next five opponents are Chicago, Houston, Memphis, Oklahoma City and the suddenly recharged Pistons. Then the Magic get lowly New York (5-35) and mediocre Indiana (15-24).

If Vaughn survives this season it likely will mean his young players show competitiveness and promise down the stretch. And if that happens, things could turn around for Vaughn and Orlando in the next couple of seasons.


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


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Marcus Morris loses cool, yells at Suns head coach

Phoenix Suns forwards Marcus Morris (15) and P.J. Tucker celebrate during the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Dallas Mavericks Friday, Dec. 5, 2014, in Dallas. (AP Photo/LM Otero)

Phoenix Suns forwards Marcus Morris (15) and P.J. Tucker celebrate during the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Dallas Mavericks Friday, Dec. 5, 2014, in Dallas. (AP Photo/LM Otero)

Well, now we know who the evil Morris twin is.

Because neither Marcus nor Markieff wears a sinister mustache, there used to be no way to tell.

The typically laid back twins who first teamed up at Kansas in college before reuniting in the NBA with Phoenix live together, get matching tattoos and spout the power of #FOE (family over everything). But Marcus lost his cool Wednesday night, during the Suns’ 113-111 win over Minnesota.

First, the 6-foot-9 forward got hit with a technical foul in the third quarter. Next, he took his anger with him to the bench, and was caught by ESPN’s cameras during an animated and intense back-and-forth with Phoenix head coach Jeff Hornacek.

The Arizona Republic’s Paul Coro reported Marcus became agitated on the court when he got hit in the nose and no foul was called. He remained in that state during the ensuing timeout and when Hornacek didn’t side with him, Marcus started yelling at the coach while stating his case.

Eventually, Suns assistant Corey Gaines stepped in before the situation got any worse.

Coro reported Marcus settled things with Hornacek shortly after the game.

"It was heat of the moment," Marcus told the Arizona Republic. "Coach knows I've got a lot of respect for him. As soon as the game was over, I apologized to him and the team, especially the younger guys for them having to see that. I felt like I got hit in the nose and my nose was bleeding and he had took me out so I was really upset about it.

"When I apologized to Jeff, he said, 'You don't have to apologize.' He knows. He's been a player. I hate that it had to be televised like just because it seemed worse than what it was."

Marcus also took to Twitter to apologize publicly.

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The backup Morris finished the game with 8 points in 14 minutes. Starting brother Markieff scored 14.

Meanwhile, Timberwolve rookie Andrew Wiggins went for 25 points, 4 rebounds and 3 steals, to go with 6 turnovers. The No. 1 overall pick hit 1 of his 4 3-point tries and just missed one that would’ve won the game.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sSW5QNmQFVA


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


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Sixers coach sees some Tim Duncan in Joel Embiid

Philadelphia 76ers' Joel Embiid of Cameroon shoots the ball prior to the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Brooklyn Nets, Wednesday, Nov. 26, 2014, in Philadelphia. The Nets won 99-91. (AP Photo/Chris Szagola)

Philadelphia 76ers' Joel Embiid of Cameroon shoots the ball prior to the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Brooklyn Nets, Wednesday, Nov. 26, 2014, in Philadelphia. The Nets won 99-91. (AP Photo/Chris Szagola)

One of these days, Philadelphia 7-footer Joel Embiid will bring more to the 76ers than pre-game and video-board entertainment.

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After suffering a fracture in his right foot prior to the NBA Draft, the rookie out of Kansas has been on a slow and steady path to rehabilitation.

While Embiid had traveled with ever-struggling Philadelphia (4-28) on what had to be a bummer of a recent road trip, the team sent him home early to focus on his rehab and training.

Prior to that, Sixers coach Brett Brown conversed with TruehoopTV’s Henry Abbott about the injured center. The coach, obviously, wishes he had his No. 3 lottery pick on the court.

For what it’s worth, Philadelphia at least has some experience in dealing with this type of situation. The 76ers’ 2013 lottery pick, Nerlens Noel, rehabbed throughout what would have been his rookie season without playing a single game in a Philly uniform. Brown said that prepared the staff for the challenges of keeping an injured young talent completely engaged in the process of getting game-ready.

“We’re trying to go overboard,” Brown said, “and teach (Embiid) what leadership is, and how to grow a program.”

With the end goal of having Embiid healthy and contributing on a permanent basis, his coach said the 20-year-old’s daily routine focuses on his health, diet and an on-going education about the game of basketball and making it in the NBA. Embiid watches video of some of the league’s best post players, and Brown — a former San Antonio assistant — even arranged for Tim Duncan to speak with the young prodigy when the Sixers played the Spurs.

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In fact, Brown, who scouted Embiid as a Jayhawk, went as far as to compare him to Duncan when asked to come up with some similar players.

“You feel reckless throwing out the names I would throw out,” Brown admitted.

But then the coach went ahead and mentioned he saw a little of all-time Houston great Hakeem Olajuwon, some flashes of Duncan and the post skills of Charlotte big man Al Jefferson in Embiid’s game.

“Those names that I just said are quite flattering and I have to use them responsibly, but there are hints of that. I think the difference with Joel, say from Timmy, when we coached Timmy, is Timmy had four years at Wake Forest and then burst into the NBA and from the get-go was arguably the best 4-man and maybe the best power forward ever.

“So Joel’s one year of experience — and almost three-quarters of a year — is far shy of that four-year period Timmy enjoyed to better prepare him for the NBA.”

As Embiid rehabs (which at one point included him just sitting in a chair with one foot up, shooting one-handed), Brown said the big man from Cameroon by way of KU is giving himself the best chance to return as soon as possible.

Whenever he finally gets clearance to play, Philadelphia could find itself with a good problem: having two talented, young, similar interior players in Embiid and 6-foot-11 Noel (7.7 points, 7.2 rebounds, 1.4 blocks through 29 games).

As Scott Howard-Cooper wrote for NBA.com, Brown now sees Noel, projected as a power forward, as more of a center. The coach said that would be “a challenge” for Philadelphia when Embiid joins the rotation.

Brown said Noel is a work in progress defensively, but for now he is more of a presence at the rim than when guarding stretch-forwards on the perimeter. Could that mean Embiid would play power forward?

Howard-Cooper reported Philly has plenty of time to figure this out, because Embiid very well might not make his debut until the Summer League.

Maybe Philadelphia just has two centers. The Sixers could play them both, just as San Antonio did when it had David Robinson and drafted Duncan. Had a team without a perennial all-star at center drafted Duncan, he would’ve been called a center, instead of a power forward. And we’d all talk about Duncan as one of the all-time great centers.

Whether Embiid gets labeled as a center of power forward, he still has a long way to go just to get on the court, let alone prove he should be mentioned in the same breath as Duncan or Olajuwon.

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


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Cole Aldrich suddenly a factor for Knicks

New York Knicks center Cole Aldrich (45) defends Washington Wizards forward Otto Porter Jr. (22) in the second half of an NBA basketball game at Madison Square Garden in New York, Thursday, Dec. 25, 2014. The Wizards defeated the Knicks 102-91. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

New York Knicks center Cole Aldrich (45) defends Washington Wizards forward Otto Porter Jr. (22) in the second half of an NBA basketball game at Madison Square Garden in New York, Thursday, Dec. 25, 2014. The Wizards defeated the Knicks 102-91. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

Hey, who’s that big guy for the Knicks scoring and rebounding? He kind of looks like Cole Aldrich.

Oh, wait. That is Cole Aldrich.

A backup post player with no previous sustained history of success in the NBA, Aldrich entered this season with little fanfare and quite possibly the least expectations of any former Kansas player in the league.

The “all-elbows-and-kneecaps” center, as Billy Witz described him in a feature for the New York Times, never had played more than 46 games in a season nor averaged more than 2.2 points.

However, with a recent new role, Aldrich suddenly looks like a serviceable interior presence, and not just a really tall guy who can wave a towel and congratulate teammates at the end of New York’s bench.

The Knicks (5-29) are terrible. Only one team in The Association can claim a worse winning percentage as the calendar turns to 2015, and that’s the “Seriously, we’re not tanking” Philadelphia 76ers (4-26).

Everybody has a bad day at the office now and then. The Knicks have been spilling coffee down their shirts while blowing the big presentation on a loop for two months now. So it helps to have someone around who can keep everybody from wanting to rip their hair out. For New York, Aldrich is that guy.

As the Lawrence Journal-World's Gary Bedore wrote about back when Aldrich was a junior at KU, the big man lost his front left tooth while battling in the paint as a Jayhawk. To this day, the 6-foot-11 center plays without his replacement tooth in his mouth, and he told the N.Y. Times that doesn’t stop him from flashing a smile with a prominent gap.

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“As weird as it sounds, I think it brings a little lightness to the air,” Aldrich said. “Somebody says something funny and I get a big old grin on my face, and somebody starts laughing.”

While little moments such as that surely are rewarding in their own right, the fifth-year pro — playing for his fourth team — finally has earned some legitimate playing time in The Big Apple. And that’s all every player really wants.

Aldrich averages just 8.6 minutes a contest in his 157-game career, but first-year Knicks coach Derek Fisher (a former teammate of Aldrich in Oklahoma City) has leaned on the 26-year-old center of late.

Prior to this past month, the 2010 lottery pick had started twice in the NBA. A handful of N.Y. roster issues, though, pushed Aldrich into the Knicks’ starting lineup for six of the team’s last seven games.

That’s on the opposite end of the spectrum from his 12 DNP’s this season. However, Aldrich has averaged 10.9 points, 7.6 rebounds, 1.3 blocks and 2.1 assists, while hitting 59.6-percent of his shots in New York’s previous seven games — all losses.

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“There have been a few stretches over my career where I’ve had the opportunity to play here or there,” Aldrich told the N.Y. Times. “I take the same approach every time that it happens, which is go out there and play hard, rebound, play defense and score when given the opportunity.”

Last week, the suddenly important post player scored a career-high 18 points at Sacramento, then pulled down 19 rebounds, another personal best, at Portland the next day.

While the fun-loving big man took some Internet flack for not getting involved in teammate Quincy Acy’s Christmas Day brawl, his coach and former teammate, Fisher, appreciates Aldrich’s work ethic and positivity.

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“He’s a great guy to have on a team,” Fisher told the N.Y Times. “He’s not a guy that tries to always lead in a vocal way, but he’s definitely become somewhat of a leader just in his approach and being an example of how you work at what you do.”

No matter what comes next for the at times goofy New York big man, he’ll keep embracing life to the fullest and make others laugh when he can, which isn’t a bad scouting report to have.

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


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Paul Pierce could return to Celtics — once he retires

Washington Wizards forward Paul Pierce (34) takes a shot against Boston Celtics forward Jared Sullinger (7) during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Monday, Dec. 8, 2014, in Washington. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)

Washington Wizards forward Paul Pierce (34) takes a shot against Boston Celtics forward Jared Sullinger (7) during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Monday, Dec. 8, 2014, in Washington. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)

Boston loves Paul Pierce. And for the former Celtic, the feeling is mutual.

Even though Pierce agreed to be traded to Brooklyn in the summer of 2013, and has since moved on to play for Washington, he spent 15 years in Celtics green. Beantown and its beloved basketball team mean so much to him, in early December Pierce made a video about his most recent return before facing Boston as a member of the Wizards in TD Garden.

So it probably shouldn’t come as a surprise Pierce told the Boston Herald he could return to the organization once he calls it quits (the 37-year-old has a player-option on his contract at the end of this season, and could opt out to earn more money in 2015-16).

According to the former Kansas standout, sometime in the coming offseason, he plans to visit Boston and will seek out Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge and co-owner Wyc Grousbeck to talk about opportunities that might be available for him when he retires.

The Herald’s Steve Bulpett reported though the 2008 NBA Finals MVP long had thought about front-office positions for his post-playing days, Pierce might even be interested in a spot on the bench.

“I’m not sure, man. I like to keep my options open,” Pierce said. “Coaching could be in my future. I think I still have a lot left to give this game. I always find myself talking to the guys. When we’re going through scouting, I’m giving out pointers. A lot of the assistants say, ‘Man, you’ve got a lot to give this game after you’re done.’ So whether it’s coaching or being a general manager, it’s something I think about. I think it’s something that Kevin (Garnett, his former C’s and Nets teammate) has even thought about. Me and him talked about it. I think he would enjoy coaching. You know, Kevin likes to teach.”

Pierce, who has career averages of 21.1 points, 5.9 rebounds, 3.8 assists and 1.4 steals has seen his production decline over the past two seasons, as the wear and tear of hundreds of NBA games — 1207 and counting — catches up with him.

This season with Washington (22-9, No. 3 in the Eastern Conference), he is shooting 44.6% from the floor, right at his career mark of 44.7%, and has made 36.3% of his 3-pointers, not too far off from the 37% he has made in his 16-plus seasons. Like last year with the Nets, he is playing below 30 minutes a game (27.0), but is contributing 13.0 points, 4.5 rebounds, 2.2 assists and 0.8 steals in a Wizards uniform.

Even though he is a productive member of a successful team, the veteran knows retirement comes closer every day.

“I’m just going to listen to my body,” Pierce told the Herald. “Some days are better than others, definitely. But it’s going to be a personal and family decision — even going into this summer.”

In the meantime, he’ll keep doing what he did all those years in Boston — just maybe on a reduced scale. Gotta save those legs for coaching.


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


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Lakers claim Tarik Black off waivers, cut Xavier Henry

Houston Rockets forward Tarik Black, right, goes up for a basket against Milwaukee Bucks guard Giannis Antetokounmpo, left, during the first half of an NBA game Saturday, Nov. 29, 2014, in Milwaukee. (AP Photo/Darren Hauck)

Houston Rockets forward Tarik Black, right, goes up for a basket against Milwaukee Bucks guard Giannis Antetokounmpo, left, during the first half of an NBA game Saturday, Nov. 29, 2014, in Milwaukee. (AP Photo/Darren Hauck)

So long, Houston. Hello, Los Angeles.

Two days after learning the Rockets had waived him in order to sign Josh Smith, rookie center Tarik Black has a new NBA home. The undrafted big man out of Kansas couldn’t pass through the league’s waiver system without the Lakers scooping him up.

Black, who had averaged 4.2 points and 5.1 rebounds for Houston, didn’t leave his short-term employer without feeling grateful. Sunday afternoon, he tweeted about his gratitude for the franchise that gave him a shot to make it in the league:

“I would like to thank the (Rockets) for blessing me to be (a part) of such an outstanding organization.”

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While the news meant the 6-foot-11 rookie would remain in the league, acquiring Black pushed another former Kansas player out. Yahoo’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported the Lakers waived inured small forward Xavier Henry in order to have a roster spot for Black.

Henry, coming off a promising 2013-14 with the Lakers, ruptured his left Achilles in November, ending his fifth season prematurely.

The Lakers only signed Henry to a one-year deal this past offseason, so parting ways with him in order to sign someone who could impact the team now made sense. Appropriately, Henry isn’t taking it personally.

“Nothing has changed,” the 23-year-old tweeted to Lakers fans Sunday afternoon. “I’m working to get healthy everyday. I understand the situation and thank (you) for your wishes (and) good vibes.”

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While going from the playoff-bound Rockets (21-7 before facing San Antonio Sunday evening) to the lottery-bound Lakers (9-21 entering Sunday’s game against Phoenix) might not seem like an ideal situation, the 23-year-old Black wasn’t complaining.

“Well, what basketball player doesn’t grow up wising to play for a historic organization like the (Lakers),” Black posted on Twitter. “Thank you for the opportunity, L.A.!!!”

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Black didn’t stop there, adding in another tweet:

“To the fans of the Lakers, I am honored and can’t wait to get to work. Hopefully I can help this team and you guys will enjoy the process.”

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Black’s signing will give the Lakers another low-post option to go with Jordan Hill, Carlos Boozer and Ed Davis.


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


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Report: Rockets waive Tarik Black

Houston Rockets forward Tarik Black, center, drives to the basket against the defense of Milwaukee Bucks guard Giannis Antetokounmpo, right, during the first half of an NBA basketball game Saturday, Nov. 29, 2014, in Milwaukee. (AP Photo/Darren Hauck)

Houston Rockets forward Tarik Black, center, drives to the basket against the defense of Milwaukee Bucks guard Giannis Antetokounmpo, right, during the first half of an NBA basketball game Saturday, Nov. 29, 2014, in Milwaukee. (AP Photo/Darren Hauck)

Basketball isn’t just a game in the NBA, it’s also a monumental business — even around the holidays.

Rookie Tarik Black learned that the hard way when Houston waived the center from Kansas the day after Christmas.

Yahoo’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported the Rockets had to clear a roster spot in order to sign free agent Josh Smith, himself waived days ago by Detroit. Black ended up being the casualty when Houston (20-7) made a title-chasing move.

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Undrafted after one year at KU, Black earned himself a Rockets uniform and playing time through hard work. Coach Kevin McHale, in a story from CBS Houston’s Howard Chen, earlier this month pointed to Black’s core values and attitude when talking about how the (allegedly) 6-foot-11 center got a shot in the NBA after all those teams passed on him in the draft.

“That’s what got my attention right away,” McHale said. “I was just very impressed with the kid as far as his willingness to come to work every day. (He) had just a great can-do attitude. Whatever you asked him to do, he did. That went a long way.”

Black started 12 of the 25 games he played for the Rockets, contributing major minutes when they needed him fill in due to injuries and the like. He was averaging 4.2 points and 5.1 rebounds in 15.7 minutes, and shooting .542 from the floor.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RLWw98YP2LM

The 23-year-old big man’s best performance came Dec. 3 against his hometown Memphis Grizzlies — the team he would’ve faced Friday night with the Rockets.

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Black put up a double-double in Houston against the Grizzlies, going for 10 points and 11 rebounds in 23 minutes. What’s more, he put in serious work on the offensive glass, with nine boards on that end of the floor, while playing against the likes of Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol.

Following that performance, Black told Chen he has learned much about the NBA through his on-the-court experience.

“There’s a lot of talent, so you have to be on your p’s and q’s night in and night out,” Black said. “You have to listen to what the coach wants. You have to listen to the game plan. And you have to go out there and execute it in order to get wins.”

That quote is an example of what McHale spoke of, and other NBA teams have not only seen evidence Black can contribute, they also have heard good things about him. So even though the rookie had played single-digit minutes in four of Houston’s last five games, he could wind up with another franchise. And soon.

Wojnarowski reported more than one NBA team told him they have interest in claiming Black off waivers.


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


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