Posts tagged with Thomas Robinson

Nomad Thomas Robinson not mad about his many moves

Philadelphia 76ers forward Thomas Robinson, center, grabs a rebound against the Milwaukee Bucks during the first half of an NBA basketball game Wednesday, Feb. 25, 2015, in Milwaukee. (AP Photo/Darren Hauck)

Philadelphia 76ers forward Thomas Robinson, center, grabs a rebound against the Milwaukee Bucks during the first half of an NBA basketball game Wednesday, Feb. 25, 2015, in Milwaukee. (AP Photo/Darren Hauck)

One can’t help but wonder: Does Thomas Robinson just keep all of his things packed, just in case he has to move again?

Maybe now that he has landed in Philadelphia he can at least unpack a few go-to items for use in the next couple of months.

The often traded, once waived former lottery pick out of Kansas has endured quite the journey(s) since leaving KU following a run to the 2012 Final Four.

SI.com’s Chris Mannix caught up with the 6-foot-10 former King/Rocket/Trail Blazer (almost Nugget and Net) to discuss what kind of impact becoming a “roster filler” less than three years after entering the league as a top-five draft pick has had on him.

Already accustomed to being a man on the move, the recent NBA trade deadline in February brought about a bizarre few days for Robinson, who was:

In just his third season in the NBA, Robinson already has worn the jerseys of Sacramento (51 games), Houston (19 games), Portland (102 games) and now Philadelphia, bouncing from city to city on one long road trip.

“I could complain about it, but this is just my path,” Robinson told SI.com. “It’s the hand I have been dealt.”

In four games as a Sixer, Robinson has made the most of his limited playing time. Though he only averages 16.3 minutes since arriving in Philly, he is scoring 9.5 points and pulling down 7.3 rebounds, while making 46.9% of his shot attempts.

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Monday night against Toronto (in another loss for the 13-47 Sixers, neck-deep in a long rebuilding overhaul), the high-energy power forward scored 13 points in 15 minutes.

Philadelphia coach Brett Brown, who saw management deal away some productive young players in Michael Carter-Williams and K.J. McDaniels less than two weeks ago, likes the way the 23-year-old forward asserts himself, describing him to SI.com as “a bull.”

“He fits all the things we like when we identify keepers. It’s a look that we couldn’t pass up. He’s not going to have a better environment to have a legitimate chance to be a legitimate NBA player.”

That's a dub. #SIXERSWIN

That's a dub. #SIXERSWIN by philadelphia76ers

Robinson, in a story by Tom Moore for mccall.com, pointed to Brown as a reason the transition to his latest team has felt easier than one might think.

"I'm definitely more comfortable," Robinson said. "Like I said, all credit to coach. He's been talking to me every day since I've been here and just pretty much making me believe we're on the same page I and we think I am as a player."

The 76ers have 22 more games to play this season (and no playoffs). For Robinson, this qualifies as an open audition, because he becomes a free agent this summer.

“I know what I can do,” Robinson told SI.com. “I’m just keeping it simple here: rebound, defend, get to the open spots. Energy and toughness is my game. That’s who I am as a player right now.”

By the time the 2015-16 season begins, odds are Robinson could be in his fifth NBA uniform, far away from Philly. It’s easy to envision him as a complimentary role player on a solid playoff team that needs a rebounder who will get after it when his name is called.

Don’t forget, though, if Robinson does move on, there will be another KU product making an impact in the City of Brotherly Love next season.


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


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Goodbye, Brooklyn: Philadelphia claims Thomas Robinson off waivers

Portland Trail Blazers forward Thomas Robinson, right, shoots against Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo, from Greece, left, and center Zaza Pachulia, from Ukraine, during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Portland, Ore., Wednesday, Dec. 17, 2014.(AP Photo/Don Ryan)

Portland Trail Blazers forward Thomas Robinson, right, shoots against Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo, from Greece, left, and center Zaza Pachulia, from Ukraine, during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Portland, Ore., Wednesday, Dec. 17, 2014.(AP Photo/Don Ryan)

Stop me if you’ve heard this one.

Thomas Robinson will not play for the NBA team we thought he was going to play for.

Last week, headed into the trade deadline, the third-year power forward was a Portland Trail Blazer.

Then he got shipped to Denver on Thursday.

A few days later, Denver waived him on Sunday.

Reports on Monday indicated Brooklyn would sign Robinson. That scenario, though, assumed that no team would claim him off waivers.

Tuesday afternoon, Philadelphia threw a wrench in the plans. Had the 76ers not grabbed him, Robinson would be a member of the Nets by the end of the day. Instead, he’s off to Philly.

Yahoo’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported the Sixers made the move for salary cap purposes.

None by Adrian Wojnarowski

None by Adrian Wojnarowski

Philadelphia — you’ve probably heard — is kind of awful (12-44, 14th in the Eastern Conference). But that might be good news for Robinson. It’s hard to imagine a team where he’d have more of an opportunity to play and actually prove that he belongs in the league.

Robinson had averaged 3.6 points and 4.2 rebounds in just 12.2 minutes this season in Portland.

The Sixers' only big men of note are Nerlens Noel and recently acquired JaVale McGee.

Would-be rookie Joel Embiid is easing his way back to full health, and the 76ers have no reason to play him until the Summer League.

Now Robinson, the former Kansas standout, should have the rest of the season to showcase his explosiveness and rebounding.

And then he’ll be a free agent at the end of the year. And he can move on. Again.

So, to recap: after being drafted by Sacramento, traded to Houston, traded to Portland, traded to Denver and waived by Denver without ever playing a game. The 76ers will be Robinson’s fourth NBA team.

We assume.


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


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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).

None by Shams Charania

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.

#foe

#foe by mookstar2

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.

None by Adrian Wojnarowski

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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Thomas Robinson subject of trade rumor with deadline approaching; and would Kings move Ben McLemore?

Portland Trail Blazers forward Thomas Robinson (41) grabs a rebound from the Oklahoma City Thunder during the fourth quarter of a NBA basketball game in Oklahoma City, Tuesday, Dec. 23, 2014. Portland won 115-111. (AP Photo/Alonzo Adams)

Portland Trail Blazers forward Thomas Robinson (41) grabs a rebound from the Oklahoma City Thunder during the fourth quarter of a NBA basketball game in Oklahoma City, Tuesday, Dec. 23, 2014. Portland won 115-111. (AP Photo/Alonzo Adams)

Believe it or not, sometimes life in the NBA isn’t easy. Especially if you’re a valuable asset when the league’s trade deadline approaches.

Just ask Washington’s journeyman power forward, Drew Gooden. Actually, BleacherReport.com did, given that the former Grizzly/Magic/Cavalier/Bull/King/Spur/Maverick/Clipper/Buck has played for 10 franchises and been traded on six separate occasions.

“I would say, where I’m at in my career, after numerous times going through a trade or the time or the window before a trade, I’m kind of numb to the feeling,” Gooden told Bleacher Report. “I know it’s a business, and I learned it early in my career. I wasn’t a guy who got drafted and stayed with his team for five, six, seven years and then got traded. I was a guy who played half a season in Memphis and got traded 50 games into the season.”

In his third go-round as a pro, Thomas Robinson hasn’t experienced all that Gooden has, but he can certainly relate. Drafted by Sacramento, traded to Houston as a rookie, then moved again to Portland before the start of his second year, Robinson could once again be on the move.

Robinson has 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 has not been a factor or become a significant part of the rotation on a talented roster — Portland entered the All-Star break with a 36-17 record, good enough to tie Houston for the third-best mark in the volatile Western Conference.

The 6-foot-10 power forward from Kansas only has played in 32 of 53 games and averages 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. He has DNP’s in three of the last five games.

Portland elected even before the season began to let him become a free agent this coming summer. So, as we wrote about before the season began, another Robinson trade long has been in play.

Now, with Thursday afternoon’s trade deadline getting closer by the second, the rumor mill churns away at a fevered pace, and Robinson’s name has emerged. Yahoo’s Adrian Wojnarowski reports the Trail Blazers offered the athletic backup big to Denver in an attempt to land Wilson Chandler.

“Portland has shown a stronger desire to make a deal with Denver for Wilson Chandler than Arron Afflalo,” Wojnarowski wrote, “partly because Chandler is under contract next season. The Blazers have made Will Barton and Thomas Robinson, as well as a future first-rounder, available in talks for wing players, but clearly would be more motivated to sweeten a package for Chandler than Afflalo, league sources said.”

Whether Robinson ends up in Denver or elsewhere, don’t be too surprised if he has a new NBA home by Thursday night.

Keep in mind: just because some other deal hasn't been rumored doesn't mean there isn't one, and some other trade package could materialize in the next few hours. You never know.

As a free-agent-to-be, another uniform change could be just around the corner for Robinson anyway.

Would the Kings move McLemore?

Sacramento Kings guard Ben McLemore, left, goes up for a dunk over Golden State Warriors forward David Lee during the third quarter of an NBA basketball game in Sacramento, Calif., Tuesday, Feb. 3, 2015. The Warriors won 121-96. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)

Sacramento Kings guard Ben McLemore, left, goes up for a dunk over Golden State Warriors forward David Lee during the third quarter of an NBA basketball game in Sacramento, Calif., Tuesday, Feb. 3, 2015. The Warriors won 121-96. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)

Speaking of young KU products with crazy bounce, Ben McLemore, in his second season with Sacramento, is averaging 11.7 points, 3.0 rebounds and 1.5 assists, and making 44.4% of his field goals, 36.2% of his 3-pointers and 83.7% of his free throws.

The Kings — one of the league’s worst teams, at 18-34 — wouldn’t possibly consider moving a a 22-year-old shooting guard with upside would they?

ESPN insider Chad Ford conducted an online chat Wednesday and came up with a scenario that could entice the Sacramento brass.

The name Goran Dragic swirls prominently in the trade winds these days, and the Phoenix point guard has made it plenty clear he wants out. Dragic reportedly wants to play for the Lakers, Knicks or Heat, presumably because he’d like to sign with one of those teams as a free agent this summer. But Ford could see Phoenix moving him within the Pacific Division for the right pieces in return:

“The Kings are the team I like best as far as fit goes. And if the Suns could get Ben McLemore or Nik Stauskas and a future No. 1 ... I think that would be a great deal for both sides,” Ford wrote.

This doesn’t even really qualify as a rumor, just speculation. However, Wojnarowski thinks Sacramento could be a serious contender to land Dragic. So stay tuned.

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A McLemore trade would be devastating news for the Kings’ television analyst, who would no longer be able to offer up such gems as:

“Ben McLemore. How ‘bout Ben SplashLemore right there?”

The most interesting part of a McLemore-to-Phoenix move, of course, would be the Suns having him and the Morris twins.

According to veteran trade piece Gooden, it’s best to keep your phone handy near the deadline.

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“Usually it’s a phone call from the GM. It’s a phone call from the agent. It’s a phone call from someone in our organization,” Gooden told Bleacher Report.

“I’ve been hearing some horror stories—which, thank God, never happened to me—about guys being in the airport, and they look at the ticker at the bottom of the screen and they see their name in a trade. There’s never a right way to tell somebody that they’ve been traded. Every place that I was at, I wanted to be there.”


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


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Thomas Robinson goes for double-double in first career start

Portland Trail Blazers forward Thomas Robinson, right, shoots against Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo, from Greece, left, and center Zaza Pachulia, from Ukraine, during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Portland, Ore., Wednesday, Dec. 17, 2014.(AP Photo/Don Ryan)

Portland Trail Blazers forward Thomas Robinson, right, shoots against Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo, from Greece, left, and center Zaza Pachulia, from Ukraine, during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Portland, Ore., Wednesday, Dec. 17, 2014.(AP Photo/Don Ryan)

Hold off on that missing person report for Thomas Robinson.

The Portland Trail Blazers gave their third-year forward a chance Wednesday night, and boy did he respond.

In the first start of the former Kansas star’s NBA career, Robinson went for a double-double (15 points, 16 rebounds) in 29 minutes of a 104-97 Portland win against Milwaukee.

Not only had the energetic 23-year-old power forward spent most of this season on the bench prior to Wednesday, he had barely seen the spotlight of the floor. In Robinson’s previous two appearances, he played nine minutes and three minutes. The Blazers (20-6) went through a nine-game stretch without playing him at all, and he had 15 DNP’s before his starting debut for one of the Western Conference’s top teams.

The people of Portlandia must’ve been looking forward to seeing more of Robinson, because the Moda Center crowd gave the 6-foot-10 power forward a standing ovation when he finally subbed out, following a 5-for-8 shooting performance from the floor.

For the first time in what had to seem like decades for Robinson, he had the freedom to fly around the court and play like he did so many times in a KU uniform. Alley-oops. Chasing down opponents to swat shots. Perfect examples of what he could be capable of in the league if he gives his team the consistency it is looking for.

As Jason Quick wrote for The Oregonian, Robinson became a starter because Robin Lopez is out for a month. What’s more, Portland coach Terry Stotts described the team’s center position as a fluid situation.

Quick’s feature on Robinson includes the still-young big man admitting he wasn’t prepared for the NBA entering his first year, and that led to his struggles — getting traded from Sacramento to Houston mid-season as a rookie, then being dealt to Portland before he began his second year.

"As far as basketball reputation, off the court reputation, it was just completely wrong. Not who I am,'' Robinson said. "And I've been trying to feel my way out of that ever since my rookie year.''

He impressed in his first start, and seems to have taken a major step in the right direction.

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None by Ben Golliver

None by Jason Quick

And Robinson wasn’t even about to pat himself on the back. After the game, he talked about his mistakes, such as missing 10 of 15 free throws, and allowing his man to score early.

“I’m not completely happy with that game, so I expect more out of myself.”

Where does Robinson go from here? It’s up to what he brings to the Portland rotation now that he’s got a chance to prove himself.


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


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2014-15 season outlook: Thomas Robinson

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 tipped off Tuesday, and nearly every other team played its opener by Wednesday, 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.

Thomas Robinson — Portland Trail Blazers

6-foot-10 Power forward | Third season

Los Angeles Lakers' Julius Randle, left, goes up for a shot against Portland Trail Blazers' Thomas Robinson during the second half of a preseason NBA basketball game Wednesday, Oct. 22, 2014, in Ontario, Calif. The Lakers won 94-86. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

Los Angeles Lakers' Julius Randle, left, goes up for a shot against Portland Trail Blazers' Thomas Robinson during the second half of a preseason NBA basketball game Wednesday, Oct. 22, 2014, in Ontario, Calif. The Lakers won 94-86. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

2013-14 numbers: 70 games | 12.5 minutes | 4.8 points | 4.4 rebounds | 48.1 FG% | 56.4 FT%

In his still young NBA career, Thomas Robinson has called three different franchises home. He could be changing zip codes again, bringing that number to four, by the time his fourth season rolls around.

Reports surfaced earlier this week — days before the start of the regular-season schedule — that Portland wouldn’t exercise its option on Robinson’s contract, choosing instead to let him become a free agent next summer.

Obviously, this made Robinson, a Trail Blazers backup who doesn’t typically get a ton of media attention, a popular interview on the eve of his team’s season opener. The Oregonian’s Jon Freeman detailed Robinson’s Tuesday Q & A, as reporters asked about his reaction to this personally disappointing news.

"It's a business. That's all you've got to understand,” Robinson said. “You've got to realize that it's bigger than you sometimes in this league. At the end of the day, it's just a business. So all I can do is keep working hard. I know I belong in this league, I know I'm a worthy player in this league. I actually think I'm above average if I had the chance. But, like I said, it's all about just working and understanding that it's a business. You can't take nothing personal.”

While this move by Portland could be some incentive for Robinson to prove himself and earn that next contract (maybe from the Blazers) in the months ahead, it also could be a sign the organization isn’t interested in keeping him in its future plans. One could also speculate this decision makes Robinson a more valuable trading chip, because many teams tend to look for expiring contracts that will help them free up salary cap space for the summer.

So Portland figures to have some suitors if it decides to flip Robinson’s contract in a move to brings in some sort of proven veteran(s) that will help the team advance past the second round of the Western Conference playoffs.

Although Robinson can play above the rim on both ends of the floor, it seems the Blazers’ frontcourt depth (LaMarcus Aldridge, Robin Lopez, Chris Kaman) makes him the odd man out when it comes to significant playing time.

In Portland’s season debut Wednesday night, a 106-89 win over Kevin Durant-less Oklahoma City, Robinson played just two minutes. That’s not a good sign for the free-agent-to-be.

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

Either he finds something within himself to make Portland take notice and give him more minutes, the Blazers try to move him or they keep him around to let his contract come off the books just in time to re-sign Aldridge next July.

Robinson has the athleticism to be an impact energy guy off the bench in the NBA. This season could determine his value, not only in Portland (one of the better teams in the West), but also around the league, for years to come.


’Hawks in the NBA 2014-15 season outlooks:

• Cole Aldrich — Knicks

Darrell Arthur — Nuggets

Tarik Black — Rockets

Mario Chalmers — Heat

Nick Collison — Thunder

Joel Embiid — 76ers

Drew Gooden — Wizards

Xavier Henry — Lakers

Kirk Hinrich — Bulls

Ben McLemore — Kings

Marcus Morris and Markieff Morris — Suns

Paul Pierce — Wizards


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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.

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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."

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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."

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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.


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Pre-game surprise rattles Thomas Robinson

Portland Trail Blazers' Thomas Robinson (41) reacts after he was called for a foul against San Antonio Spurs' Tiago Splitter, right, of Brazil, during the second half of Game 2 of a Western Conference semifinal NBA basketball playoff series, Thursday, May 8, 2014, in San Antonio. San Antonio won 114-97. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

Portland Trail Blazers' Thomas Robinson (41) reacts after he was called for a foul against San Antonio Spurs' Tiago Splitter, right, of Brazil, during the second half of Game 2 of a Western Conference semifinal NBA basketball playoff series, Thursday, May 8, 2014, in San Antonio. San Antonio won 114-97. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

You think Thomas Robinson looks upset in the above photo from Portland's 114-97 Game 2 loss at San Antonio Thursday night?

If only cameras had been in the locker room before the game.

That's when Robinson ran into something far scarier than Tim Duncan. He saw a snake in his locker-room stall.

Joel Odom of The Oregonian got the details from Robinson himself.

"It took a couple minutes for everybody to believe me. 'There’s a snake in my locker.' But everybody thought I was playing, until they came over and looked for ourselves. And then he told us to get away from it, it was a rattlesnake. "

Robinson's initial reaction?

"I screamed, jumped, yelled, all that."

His teammate, Mo Williams, seemed braver than the other Blazers in the locker room at the time. He posted a photo of the rattler to Instagram.

We get in the lockerroom n its a damn snake, yea a snake in the lockerroom. Man we was scared as hell

We get in the lockerroom n its a damn snake, yea a snake in the lockerroom. Man we was scared as hell by mogotti25

Reporters asked Robinson after the fact what the snake looked like, and he had the perfect description:

"Black and white. Spurs."

Robinson went on to score two points and grab two rebounds in 14 minutes after the pre-game scare. Portland, down 2-0 in the series, plays host to San Antonio on Saturday (9:30 p.m., ESPN).


Chalmers a steady component for Miami

Miami Heat's Mario Chalmers (15) shoots over Brooklyn Nets' Deron Williams (8), Joe Johnson (7), Paul Pierce (34) and Kevin Garnett (2) in the first half of Game 1 in an Eastern Conference semifinal basketball game, Tuesday, May 6, 2014, in Miami. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

Miami Heat's Mario Chalmers (15) shoots over Brooklyn Nets' Deron Williams (8), Joe Johnson (7), Paul Pierce (34) and Kevin Garnett (2) in the first half of Game 1 in an Eastern Conference semifinal basketball game, Tuesday, May 6, 2014, in Miami. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

In the Jayhawk vs. Jayhawk Eastern Conference semifinals — also known as Brooklyn vs. Miami — Mario Chalmers' Heat put Paul Pierce's Nets in a 2-0 hole Thursday with a 94-82 victory.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uh-C5UtzLCg

Though Chalmers (11 points, 5 assists) was outscored by Pierce (13 points, 4 rebounds, 2 assists), Miami's sixth-year guard has to be feeling better about his team's chances of moving on to the conference finals — especially with LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh on his side.

Chalmers doesn't have the name power of the Heat's Big Three, but he has been in the starting lineup in every game he's played during the previous three regular seasons for the back-to-back NBA champions.

Shandel Richardson of the Sun Sentinel wrote about Chalmers' consistency following Game 2 of the series. His biggest accomplishment in this one might have been his role in holding Nets guard Deron Williams scoreless (0-for-9 in 37 minutes).

"I just provide all I can for my teammates. My main focus this year was just being a consistent player. I think I've done a pretty good job with that. My teammates trusted me. The coaching staff trusted in me."

Bosh said the Heat need Chalmers in that role, and appreciate what he brings.

"When Rio is playing well, we're tough to beat. He's just that fourth or fifth guy who you can't leave. When he's controlling his tempo, doing his job, making open shots, it's really all uphill for us."

Game 3 is Saturday at Brooklyn (7 p.m., ABC).


McLemore planning on busy offseason

Sacramento Kings guard Ben McLemore (16) slam dunks in front of New Orleans Pelicans guard Anthony Morrow (3) and forward Darius Miller (2) in the second half of an NBA basketball game in New Orleans, Monday, March 31, 2014. The Kings won 102-97. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

Sacramento Kings guard Ben McLemore (16) slam dunks in front of New Orleans Pelicans guard Anthony Morrow (3) and forward Darius Miller (2) in the second half of an NBA basketball game in New Orleans, Monday, March 31, 2014. The Kings won 102-97. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

The 2014 NBA Playoffs are in full effect as eight of the league's 30 teams still have dreams of hoisting the Larry O'Brien Trophy come June.

For most of the league, though, it's already summertime.

Trying to reach the playoffs himself one day, Sacramento shooting guard Ben McLemore hasn't stopped working on his game while returning to Lawrence, where he played one season for Kansas.

None by Ben McLemore

But he's also in town to get in some off-court work, toward completing his degree.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R-rDGbVdv9w

McLemore, drafted seventh by the Kings last summer, didn't receive any votes for the NBA's Rookie of the Year award, won by Philadelphia's Michael Carter-Williams, the 11th overall pick in 2013.

Sacramento general manager Pete D'Alessandro addressed the 21-year-old shooting guard's first season — 82 games, 55 starts, 8.8 points, 2.9 rebounds, 37.6% shooting, 32% from 3-point range — in a recent Q & A.

“I think Ben had a very common rookie year. His performance is something we see a lot from guys like him. I think we saw it early on and he stepped up quickly and played well, hit somewhat of a wall and now you see later on he’s getting there. If you took the beginning and end of this season and put them together, you’d look at him and go, ‘Hey, those are pretty decent looking numbers.’ I think it’s common when you have a young guy who’s played a year of college and steps into that starting position. It’s a lot to ask. We have three high-scoring pieces on a team. How do you step up and be that fourth guy? It’s tough."

To D'Alessandro's point, McLemore's numbers fluctuated throughout his first year:

• November: 9.5 points, 3.1 rebounds, 39.3% FGs, 36.4% 3s in 23.2 minutes

• December: 8.6 points, 3.1 rebounds, 37.6% FGs, 35.1% 3s in 28.2 minutes

• January: 5.9 points, 2.3 rebounds, 35.1% FGs, 29.3% 3s in 19.7 minutes

• February: 6.6 points, 2.8 rebounds, 30.1% FGs, 23.5% 3s in 25.1 minutes

• March: 10.6 points, 2.9 rebounds, 42.7% FGs, 32.8% 3s in 31.4 minutes

• April: 13.9 points, 3.4 rebounds, 39.1% FGs, 31.6% 3s in 37.3 minutes

The rookie's confidence began growing late in the season, after Sacramento traded away Marcus Thornton, and re-inserted McLemore into the starting lineup.

D'Alessandro, it seems from the Q & A, remains impressed with McLemore — even if he didn't have the kind of rookie year Carter-Williams or Orlando's Victor Oladipo (the No. 2 overall pick) did.

“I’ve said this from the beginning of the year, the guy works like no other young guy works. He and Ray (McCallum, another 2013-14 rookie) together, I really give them a lot of credit for their work ethic. If you have talent, athleticism, and that work ethic – which he does – I think it’s a recipe for success. I really look forward to what has yet to come for him. I’ve been very happy with Ben. I’ve said it all year long, and I stand by it.”

Clearly that work ethic is already being put to use. In a quote from CowbellKingdom.com, the young guard described how the 82-game grind of his first NBA season shaped his plan of attack going forward.

“Just coming in the league, I’ve seen so much playing against these different type of caliber guys every night, just seeing what I need to work on. It definitely helped me (realize), ‘Ok, I need to work on this, this summer.’”


Markieff Morris snubbed in Sixth Man voting?

Phoenix Suns' Markieff Morris (11) drives as Memphis Grizzlies' Zach Randolph (50) and Tayshaun Prince (21) defend during the second half of an NBA basketball game, Monday, April 14, 2014, in Phoenix. The Grizzlies won 97-91. (AP Photo/Matt York)

Phoenix Suns' Markieff Morris (11) drives as Memphis Grizzlies' Zach Randolph (50) and Tayshaun Prince (21) defend during the second half of an NBA basketball game, Monday, April 14, 2014, in Phoenix. The Grizzlies won 97-91. (AP Photo/Matt York)

Once the NBA announced Los Angeles Clippers gaurd Jamal Crawford as the 2013-14 Sixth Man of the Year, it didn't take long for someone to pose the question: Why not Markieff Morris?

That someone was Paul Coro of The Arizona Republic, who covers the Phoenix Suns and used his ballot to vote Morris as the league's top reserve.

Coro's case against Crawford stems from the fact he started 24 games for the Clippers in the regular season, and the Suns beat writer said Morris or Chicago's Taj Gibson were more deserving.

Morris had plenty going for him, and Coro provides the evidence. Among bench players (the 6-foot-10 power forward served as a backup in all 81 games he played), Morris scored the most points (1,115) had the most double-doubles (11), was fourth in rebounds per game (6.0), fifth in points per game (13.8), sixth in field-goal percentage (48.6), and even seventh in steals per game (0.85).


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Chalmers, Miami take Game 1 vs. Pierce, Brooklyn

Miami Heat's Mario Chalmers (15) drives to the basket as Brooklyn Nets' Deron Williams (8) defends in the first half of Game 1 in an Eastern Conference semifinal basketball game, Tuesday, May 6, 2014, in Miami. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

Miami Heat's Mario Chalmers (15) drives to the basket as Brooklyn Nets' Deron Williams (8) defends in the first half of Game 1 in an Eastern Conference semifinal basketball game, Tuesday, May 6, 2014, in Miami. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

Arguably the two most successful 'Hawks in the NBA, Miami's Mario Chalmers and Brooklyn's Paul Pierce will be seeing a lot of each other in the coming days.

Chalmers and the Heat took a step toward the Eastern Conference finals by beating Pierce and the Nets, 107-86, Tuesday night in Miami.

Chalmers hit 5 of his 9 shots for 12 points in Game 1, while Pierce went 3-for-8 and scored 8 points.

The outcome and low point total for Pierce proved the playoffs are a lot different than the regular season — he averaged 21.3 points and the Nets swept Miami in four pre-playoffs meetings.

Of course, the 16-year veteran has been through enough grinding postseason series to know even a 21-point loss doesn't guarantee Miami anything. As Andrew Keh quoted Pierce for The New York Times:

“It was a 3-point game at the half, fellas. I mean, we’re not overreacting. We feel like we still can get a game in this building.”

And that came following a game in which Pierce only scored two points after the first quarter, with LeBron James often defending him in the second half. So don't expect confidence to be an issue in the Brooklyn locker room.

Miami fans, who grew to dislike Pierce when he played for Boston, aren't too fond of him in a Brooklyn uniform, either. Plus, colliding with Chalmers and sending his fellow KU product to the floor with a thud in Game 1 didn't win him any popularity points.

Game 2 of Nets-Heat tips off at 6 p.m. Thursday at Miami (on TNT).


The reemergence of Drew Gooden

Washington Wizards forward Drew Gooden (90) celebrates after a play with Indiana Pacers forward Paul George (24) nearby in the second half of an NBA basketball game on Friday, March 28, 2014, in Washington. The Wizards won 91-78. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Washington Wizards forward Drew Gooden (90) celebrates after a play with Indiana Pacers forward Paul George (24) nearby in the second half of an NBA basketball game on Friday, March 28, 2014, in Washington. The Wizards won 91-78. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Someone forgot to tell Drew Gooden this isn't 2005. The 12th-year power forward isn't supposed to be able to sub in and produce a double-double, no problem. But that's just what Gooden did in Game 1 of Washington's second-round playoff series with Indiana on Monday.

In the Wizards' five first-round games against Chicago, Gooden played five minutes or less in four games, earning a DNP-coach's decision in the series finale. He scored all of two points in 26 minutes of floor time in Game 4.

So Gooden was the last guy in a D.C. uniform anyone expected 12 points and 13 rebounds out of in Game 1 at Indiana. Anyone not named Drew Gooden, that is. The 6-foot-10 Kansas product put up his first double-double since March 21 while playing 18 minutes in Washington's 102-96 victory over the East's top seed, the Pacers. What's more, most of his timely jumpers and tip-ins came in the second half, when Washington needed them.

Playing for his 10th NBA team, Gooden's stat line looked far better than those of Indiana big men Roy Hibbert (zero points, no rebounds), Ian Mahinmi (2 points, zero boards) and Luis Scola (12 points, five rebounds).

None by Kyle Weidie

None by Tom Haberstroh

The Washington Post's Michael Lee wrote about how Gooden, out of the NBA most of the 2013-14 regular season, kept his hopes up and stayed in shape before Washington picked him up in late February and then embraced his opportunity in D.C.

Wizards starting center Marcin Gortat told Lee Gooden changed Game 1.

“Thanks to him, obviously, we got this win. It was all about Drew Gooden. He was just outstanding. I guess they just underestimated this guy and, you know, he brought it. He’s a veteran. He’s a talented guy and you know, he knows how to put himself in the position to rebound the ball, and his timing today was very good.”

The 32-year-old Gooden, Lee pointed out, became the first player since the inception of the shot clock to have at least 12 points and 13 rebounds in only 18 minutes. After his critical playoff performance, the substitute big man couldn't believe that nugget.

“That’s a wow to me, because I know it’s been a lot of better players, a lot of greats that had that opportunity but to throw Drew Gooden in that mix, I’m flattered.”

We'll find out if Gooden can continue his role as the X-factor in the series when Game 2 tips off Wednesday night at 6 p.m. in Indiana (on TNT).


Tweetworthy

Noteworthy tweets (or Instagram posts) from and about the 'Hawks in the NBA:

None by Kansas Basketball

None by Brandon Rush

None by Brandon Rush

None by thomas robinson

None by Cole Aldrich

Congratulations @easymoneysniper on winning MVP. Thank you for all you do.

Congratulations @easymoneysniper on winning MVP. Thank you for all you do. by nicholascollison


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