Posts tagged with Xavier Henry

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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2014-15 season outlook: Xavier Henry

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 Tuesday, 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.

Xavier Henry — Los Angeles Lakers

6-foot-7 small forward/shooting guard | Fifth season

Los Angeles Lakers forward Xavier Henry, right, dunks as New York Knicks guard Iman Shumpert defends during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Tuesday, March 25, 2014, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

Los Angeles Lakers forward Xavier Henry, right, dunks as New York Knicks guard Iman Shumpert defends during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Tuesday, March 25, 2014, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

2013-14 numbers: 43 games | 21.1 minutes | 10.0 points | 2.7 rebounds | 41.7 FG% | 34.6 3-pt% | 65.5 FT%

Xavier Henry hasn’t played a competitive game of basketball since April 1. But his injury issues didn’t stop the Lakers from re-signing him as a free agent this past summer.

A banged-up knee and wrist forced the young perimeter player out of L.A.’s lineup for almost half of last season. And with Opening Night quickly approaching, Henry never got to play in the preseason.

In fact, the L.A. Times reported he recently traveled to New York and Germany in search of an answer for his bothersome right knee. Henry traveled half-way around the world to receive what is known as Regenokine treatment — something Lakers star Kobe Bryant has gone through to keep his aging body as fresh as possible.

The Times’ Eric Pincus reported the procedure involves removing blood from a specific part of the body, spinning it in a centrifuge and creating a serum to inject back into the impacted area.

The good news for the 23-year-old is when he re-gains his health, he will get re-inserted into L.A.’s lineup with the expectation to produce.

Outside of Kobe Bryant, the Lakers have Wesley Johnson, Wayne Ellington, Nick Young (also injured right now) and Jordan Clarkson as their options at shooting guard and small forward. So a healthy Henry easily could turn into a sixth-man option for L.A.

Whenever Henry gets back, he admitted he will have to shake off some rust.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OIxlCV5-Wv0

“I could always run out there and be like, ‘Let me play,’ and then too many things go on, something starts to hurt. I need to make sure I come back when I can fully help the team,” he recently told reporters.

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

If the Lakers actually think they can get back to the playoffs, they will just have to out-shoot/out-score people (they don’t exactly have any defensive stoppers). And Henry can definitely contribute in those categories as a backup, which he proved during his breakout 2013-14 season (10.0 points per game in 21.1 minutes).

When his body is at full strength, Henry can hit three-pointers or attack the rim (with no apologies to former Kansas teammate Jeff Withey).

And Kobe will need all of that kind of help that he can get.


’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


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The Gambler: Paul Pierce betting on young Wizards

Brooklyn Nets' Paul Pierce, top, scores over Washington Wizards' Marcin Gortat, left, Nene Hilario, right, and Martell Webster during the second half of an NBA basketball game Wednesday, Dec. 18, 2013, in New York. Washington defeated Brooklyn 113-107. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

Brooklyn Nets' Paul Pierce, top, scores over Washington Wizards' Marcin Gortat, left, Nene Hilario, right, and Martell Webster during the second half of an NBA basketball game Wednesday, Dec. 18, 2013, in New York. Washington defeated Brooklyn 113-107. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

Paul Pierce must be in the gambling mood this summer.

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After surviving for three days at the World Series of Poker Main Event last week in Las Vegas, finishing around 800th, the 16-year veteran out of Kansas University shocked many NBA observers when news surfaced late Saturday night he had reached a deal with Washington.

One of seven former KU players in the expansive pool of available free agents this summer, Pierce, like nearly every other veteran in search of a contract, had to wait until LeBron James made his Decision: The Sequel. Once The King announced his return to Cleveland on Friday, the rest of the league began making moves. The Wizards couldn't re-sign Trevor Ariza, who chose Houston. That left a void at small forward for D.C., which Pierce will happily fill after signing a two-year contract worth $10.8 million.

Prior to the deal, reports indicated Pierce preferred to re-sign with Brooklyn or find a way — preferably via sign-and-trade, for more money — to get on the Clippers' roster and reunite with his former Boston coach, Doc Rivers.

The Nets reached the Eastern Conference semifinals this past spring, and could have made a similar or better run in 2015 with Pierce, Deron Williams, Brook Lopez, Joe Johnson, aging-in-fast-forward Kevin Garnett and Brooklyn's key role players — assuming all were healthy.

Had Pierce landed in L.A., near his boyhood home of Inglewood, California, he could have joined a team that has to be considered one of the handful of favorites to contend for the NBA title next year, with Chris Paul and Blake Griffin leading the way.

Instead, "The Truth" decided to move in a different direction, to the nation's capital.

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Why Washington? Well, it's a lot easier to reach the NBA Finals out of the East. In 2013-14, nine Western Conference teams won at least 48 games. In the East, just four organizations — Indiana, Miami, Toronto and Chicago — managed to do so.

Plus, LeBron's relocation makes the East wide open. Miami is no longer a juggernaut. Indiana faltered down the stretch last season. And Toronto is no longer in position to surprise anybody.

Chicago, which added Pau Gasol and (presumably) gets Derrick Rose back from his second knee injury in two years, will be a favorite in the East, along with Cleveland (any team with LeBron James on its roster is a title contender).

Still, neither of those teams is a sure-fire bet. No one knows whether Rose can still play at an MVP level and LeBron will be surrounded by guys with little to no playoff experience — and that includes Kevin Love, if the Cavs can swing a deal for the coveted power forward.

Washington could unseat the Heat atop the Southeast Division and find itself among the conference's top three seeds. The Wizards (44-38 in '13-'14) advanced to the second round as the No. 5 seed in the playoffs a few months back. And D.C. has one of the best young backcourts in the league, with John Wall and Bradley Beal. Add Pierce, in a complimentary role, to those two, Marcin Gortat and Nene Hilario, and you've got a lineup that can play with any of the East's top teams.

Pierce is betting on Wall and Beal instead of Williams and Johnson. If his latest gamble pays off, he could be cashing in on a deep playoff run in 2015.


He's back

Miami Heat guard Mario Chalmers, right, shoots as San Antonio Spurs forward Tim Duncan defends during the second half in Game 2 of the NBA basketball finals on Sunday, June 8, 2014, in San Antonio. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)

Miami Heat guard Mario Chalmers, right, shoots as San Antonio Spurs forward Tim Duncan defends during the second half in Game 2 of the NBA basketball finals on Sunday, June 8, 2014, in San Antonio. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)

The weekend also brought new NBA contracts for 'Hawks in the NBA free agents Cole Aldrich (New York), Kirk Hinrich (Chicago) and Mario Chalmers (Miami), all of whom re-signed with their previous teams.

The most surprising of those deals, by far, has to be Chalmers' two-year agreement with Miami. A Heat scapegoat in what turned out to be the franchise's last LeBron hurrah, a 4-1 NBA Finals defeat at the hands of San Antonio, Chalmers was yanked from the starting lineup in Game 5 and presumed on his way out of town once Miami drafted UConn point guard Shabazz Napier.

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But James' departure left the Heat scrambling, so Chalmers, after averaging 4.4 points, 2.8 assists and 2.0 turnovers in the Finals, finds himself back in the fold with Miami's new Big Two: Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade. (Big Three if you count newly signed Luol Deng.)

Xavier Henry, Drew Gooden and Brandon Rush remain on the market. Gooden is expected to re-sign with Washington, which would give the Wizards a pair of Jayhawks.

Rush will work out for some NBA teams Tuesday in Las Vegas. Bleacher Report's Ethan J. Skolnick says the Heat could be one franchise interested in the 6-foot-6 shooting guard, who only played 38 games for Utah in his sixth season.

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Recovering from a torn ligament in his left wrist and an abnormality in his right knee's meniscus, Henry said in June he expects to be at 100 percent before the end of the summer.


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Ben McLemore not sweating Kings’ latest draft selection

Ben McLemore brings down the house as he slams home a monstrous dunk over Brady Morningstar during the annual Rock Chalk Roundball Classic, played Thursday evening at Lawrence High.

Ben McLemore brings down the house as he slams home a monstrous dunk over Brady Morningstar during the annual Rock Chalk Roundball Classic, played Thursday evening at Lawrence High. by John Young

Considering his team, the Sacramento Kings, had just selected a shooting guard — the same position at which he started 55 games as a rookie — with the eighth overall pick in the NBA Draft, Kansas University product Ben McLemore played it cool on draft night.

A year removed from his own introduction to the league, when the Kings took him seventh overall, McLemore sent out a welcome tweet to his new teammate (and potential competitor for playing time), Michigan guard Nik Stauskas:

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Outwardly congenial, McLemore revealed to the Sacramento Bee's Jason Jones that the choice initially surprised him.

“I wasn’t expecting that,” McLemore told Jones. “At the same time, they felt he was the best available draft pick, so I’m fine with it. At the end of the day, it’s a business, and I’m just going to do what I have to do to get better as a player.”

While his rookie season included flashes of production and promise, such as when the league named McLemore the Western Conference rookie of the month in November, the first-year guard struggled in stretches, too. He finished the season with an 8.8 points per game scoring average and less than impressive shooting percentages: 37.6 from the floor and 32 from three-point range (he missed 202 of his 297 attempts).

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As McLemore and other members of the Kings' summer league team gathered in Las Vegas for mini-camp on Monday, head coach Michael Malone indicated to the Bee that McLemore's performance didn't inspire the organization to try and draft a replacement in Stauskas, a 6-foot-6 shooting specialist who drained 44.2 percent of his three-pointers this past season at Michigan.

“There’s only a few LeBron James, Kevin Durants, Kobe Bryants out there,” Malone said. “Most rookies come out and struggle. (McLemore) went through the struggling times. The most important thing for me was February was his toughest month, but in March and April he really got himself up off the mat. He showed resilience and finished the season on a high note (career high 31 points in finale).”

Jones reported Sacramento's Monday practice included some experimentation with playing McLemore and Stauskas side by side.

“It was good,” the rookie told the Bee. “For the most part, we were on the floor at the same time. He’s a great player, and hopefully we can feed off each other well.”

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After playing with Stauskas for the first time (they played against each other in the 2013 Sweet 16, when Michigan beat Kansas, 87-85, in overtime), McLemore gave a brief scouting report in a video interview posted on the Kings' website.

"We've kind of got a similar game," McLemore said. "We both can shoot the ball, we can put it down on the floor, you know, (do) different things. I think we'll be a good backcourt."

The Kings play their summer league opener Friday night in Las Vegas, against San Antonio.


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'Hawks in free agency

Paul Pierce is in Las Vegas, too. But not for the NBA's summer league. Apparently unfazed by his status as an uncommitted free agent, "The Truth" is working on one of his favorite hobbies at the World Series of Poker.

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As for what uniform he'll wear in his 17th NBA season? Pierce could re-sign with Brooklyn. But ESPNNewYork.com's Mike Mazzeo reported the 36-year-old small forward wants $9 to $10 million a year, while the Nets would like to pay him between $6 and $8 million.

According to Mazzeo, Nets general manager Billy King said the Los Angeles Clippers inquired about a sign-and-trade deal for Pierce, who teamed with Clippers coach Doc Rivers to win an NBA title in Boston. However, King didn't like what L.A. offered.

Like Pierce, the six other KU products looking to sign as free agents might have to wait for stars LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony and Chris Bosh to make their decisions, because so many teams are holding back on contract offers until those pieces of the personnel puzzle fall into place.

Also still in limbo are Mario Chalmers, Xavier Henry, Kirk Hinrich, Drew Gooden, Brandon Rush and Cole Aldrich.

Aldrich told the Journal-World on Monday he would like to re-up with New York. Gooden told the Washington Post's Dan Steinberg he is interested in remaining in D.C., with the Wizards. Hinrich has long stated his desire to keep playing for Chicago.


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Chalmers, six other KU products hit free agency market

Miami Heat guard Mario Chalmers (15) goes to the basket as San Antonio Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard (2) defends in the first half in Game 4 of the NBA basketball finals, Thursday, June 12, 2014, in Miami. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

Miami Heat guard Mario Chalmers (15) goes to the basket as San Antonio Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard (2) defends in the first half in Game 4 of the NBA basketball finals, Thursday, June 12, 2014, in Miami. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

Most NBA free agents can't wait for July 1. Shortly after midnight, the league's 30 teams can begin their full-court, offseasson press, courting the players they hope to throw multi-million dollar salaries at.

The start of free agency figures to bring equal parts anticipation and uncertainty to unrestricted free agent Mario Chalmers, coming off his sixth NBA season with Miami.

While the 6-foot-2 point guard from Kansas University became a starting lineup mainstay with the Heat, right along with superstar LeBron James and all-stars Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, his days with the Heat might be over after appearing in four straight NBA Finals with the organization that drafted him in the second round in 2008.

With Miami trying to figure out a way to to bring back the most sought after star in the NBA universe, James, as well as Wade and Bosh — all three free agents themselves — and trying to save every penny it can in the process, Chalmers suddenly appears dispensable. Though the former KU hero averaged 9.8 points and 4.9 assists this past regular season for Miami, but those numbers dropped to 6.4 points and 3.6 assists in the playoffs. Making matters worse for the free agent, Chalmers only put up 4.4 points and 2.8 assists, and averaged 2.0 turnovers in 23.1 minutes a game in the Finals, when San Antonio disposed of the back-to-back champs in five games.

Those five lackluster nights — 33 percent field goals in the series, 1-for-7 from 3-point range — in front of a world wide audience ignited the Twitter trolls, who posted pictures of trash alongside Chalmers' name or claimed his next uniform will be the one issued to Home Depot employees.

Of course, the only opinion that really matters is that of Heat president Pat Riley (who also figures to be keenly aware of LeBron's viewpoint). The night of the draft, James tweeted: "My favorite player in the draft! #Napier."

Shortly after, Miami pulled off a trade with Charlotte to attain the draft rights to Connecticut point guard Shabazz Napier.

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Bleacher Report's Ethan Skolnick wrote about Riley's ability to acquire Napier without giving up Miami's other point guard, Norris Cole. Miami's man in charge said the incoming UConn rookie and Cole would compete for playing time, and didn't offer much on where that leaves Chalmers.

"Mario's a free agent, so (we've) got to deal with that," Riley said in the report.

Back on June 17, Skolnick caught up with Chalmers as players packed up for the summer and tweeted that the free agent point guard would prefer to stay with Miami, but was "excited" about free agency.

"Nobody wants to leave South Florida," Chalmers told Skolnick. "We'll see what happens."

NBCSports.com's Kurt Helin put Chalmers at No. 42 on his list of top 50 free agents. At USA Today's hoopshype.com, Chalmers comes in as the No. 10 point guard available this summer.

He won't be the only Kansas product chasing a new contract. In total, six other Jayhawks are unrestricted free agents: Brooklyn's Paul Pierce, the Los Angeles Lakers' Xavier Henry, Chicago's Kirk Hinrich, Washington's Drew Gooden, Utah's Brandon Rush and New York's Cole Aldrich.

Pierce seemed likely to re-sign with the Nets, but over the past few days, the team's head coach, Jason Kidd, decided he would rather work for Milwaukee. By Monday, the two organizations reached a deal to make Kidd the new coach of the Bucks. A new coach in Brooklyn could mean no more Pierce,

As ESPNLosAngeles.com's Dave McMenamin reported, Henry is recovering from a torn ligament in his left wrist and an abnormality in his right knee's meniscus. He could still be weeks of rehab away from 100 percent.

“All I know is I can play," Henry told McMenamin. "And when I’m 100 percent next season, I’m going to bring the energy and be able to play."

Hinrich stated on more than one occasion during the season that he would prefer to stay with the Bulls. But he might have to do some waiting to figure out if that's possible, as Chicago should be one of the major players in free agency and a possible landing spot for Carmelo Anthony.

Gooden, a late-season addition to Washington's roster might start his 13th NBA season in a striped Wizards uniform. Yahoo's Marc J. Spears tweeted Monday afternoon that the veteran power forward is expected to re-sign with D.C. for the league minimum.

The future, at this point, is far more unpredictable for Aldrich and Rush, though re-signing seems unlikely for either.

The Denver Nuggets' Darrell Arthur could have made it eight Jayhawks in free agency, but exercised the player option on his contract, instead of testing the waters. The six-year pro will make just under $3.5 million this coming season.


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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"

http://instagram.com/p/mgGHZuv4Vx/


'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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They’re not booing in D.C., they’re saying ‘Drew’

Now that March Madness — and Stanford — brought a premature end to Kansas University's basketball season, all Jayhawks fans can do is sit around watching their Twitter feeds to see whether Joel Embiid will announce his intentions for next season, as in: Will he play at KU or in the NBA?

The good news? You can fill some of your KU hoops void with 'Hawks in the NBA.


Guess who's back

Washington Wizards forward Drew Gooden puts up a shot as Los Angeles Lakers forward Jordan Hill defends during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Friday, March 21, 2014, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

Washington Wizards forward Drew Gooden puts up a shot as Los Angeles Lakers forward Jordan Hill defends during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Friday, March 21, 2014, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

It's been about a month since our last 'Hawks entry here at KUsports.com, and probably the biggest news in that span was the return of Drew Gooden to the Association.

The bearded, No. 90-wearing veteran — out of the league since getting cut by Milwaukee last summer — joined the Washington Wizards. Initially, the Wiz signed Gooden to a 10-day contract, but he quickly proved his worth, and is under contract for the remainder of the season.

Washington no longer operates as one of the league's laughing stocks. So you'll get a chance to see Gooden in the playoffs. Entering Friday's games, the Wizards (36-35) held the No. 6 spot in the Eastern Conference, and it would take a significant collapse for them to fall out of the top eight.

Gooden came along slowly, with two scoreless games in very limited minutes to begin his stint in D.C. But when he gets minutes, he puts up points. Now in his 12th — though abbreviated — season, the 6-foot-10 veteran came through with a 21-point, nine-rebound outing in a key conference win over Brooklyn two weeks ago.

He has played in just 13 games, went scoreless in three of them (playing single-digit minutes on each occasion) and still averages 10.2 points and 5.7 rebounds in 17.5 minutes a game.

Gooden did get fined $15,000 for a flagrant foul, but mostly his return has worked out for him and Washington.

In a Sam Amick story for USA Today, the former Jayhawk said getting overlooked by the league when he could've signed with any team before the 2013-14 campaign has fueled his late-season addition in D.C.

"I've got a vendetta right now against all the other teams that overlooked me. I wanted to show them once I got an opportunity that I've got a passion and I love this game, and I wasn't going to go and leave my career like it was left last season in Milwaukee."

In his career, Gooden has played for 10 of the league's 30 franchises: Orlando, Memphis, Cleveland, Chicago, Sacramento, San Antonio, Dallas, the Los Angeles Clippers, Milwaukee and Washington.


McLemore reflects on highs and lows of rookie year

Sacramento Kings guard Ben McLemore, right, drives to the basket against New York Knicks defender Tim Hardaway Jr. left, during the second half of an NBA basketball game in Sacramento, Calif., on Wednesday, March 26, 2014.The Knicks won 107-99.(AP Photo/Steve Yeater)

Sacramento Kings guard Ben McLemore, right, drives to the basket against New York Knicks defender Tim Hardaway Jr. left, during the second half of an NBA basketball game in Sacramento, Calif., on Wednesday, March 26, 2014.The Knicks won 107-99.(AP Photo/Steve Yeater)

Since arriving in Sacramento as the Kings' No. 7 overall pick in the 2013 draft, Ben McLemore hasn't exactly set the NBA on fire. The 6-foot-5 shooting guard out of Kansas has averaged 8.0 points, 2.8 rebounds, made 37.2% of his shots and 31.7% of his 3-pointers.

McLemore sat down with James Ham at the Cowbell Kingdom blog for a Q & A this week. Here are a few of the more interesting comments from the rookie, who is constantly learning and adapting in the league.

The reporter asked McLemore what it was like to see Andrew Wiggins and Embiid playing for KU, knowing he could've played with them as a sophomore if he didn't leave for the NBA:

"You’re right, I could have been out there playing with those guys and just having fun playing Kansas basketball with those guys. But at the same time, I made a great decision to come to the NBA. I definitely don’t regret that. I have a great opportunity right now in a great situation."

McLemore also discussed his life-changing NBA contract, which took him from having very little money to a whole lot.

"I think it’s been great. I really haven’t had a problem. My family – as long as my mom, my sisters and brothers are fine, that’s the people I’m looking out for. I’ve got a lot of family and they know my situation and they understand that I did this and I’ve worked hard to get in this position."

McLemore said he will be back in Kansas this summer, taking classes.

"It’s very important because I want to get my degree. I was the first one out of my family to go to a university and I would be the first to have a degree. To look back and tell my kids that their dad got his degree in college, to tell them that this is important, that school is important. And my mom would be proud. She’d be even more proud if I got my degree."

Read the entire interview at CowbellKingdom.com.

Sacramento (25-46) is out of the playoff hunt in the Western Conference.


Hinrich, Bulls keep plugging away

Chicago Bulls shooting guard Kirk Hinrich (12) shoots past San Antonio Spurs point guard Tony Parker (9) during the second half of an NBA basketball game on Tuesday, March 11, 2014, in Chicago. The San Antonio Spurs defeated The Chicago Bulls 104-96. (AP Photo/Andrew A. Nelles)

Chicago Bulls shooting guard Kirk Hinrich (12) shoots past San Antonio Spurs point guard Tony Parker (9) during the second half of an NBA basketball game on Tuesday, March 11, 2014, in Chicago. The San Antonio Spurs defeated The Chicago Bulls 104-96. (AP Photo/Andrew A. Nelles)

Even though Chicago lost former league MVP Derrick Rose for the season due to a torn right meniscus, the Bulls have remained one of the top teams in the East.

Eleventh-year NBA veteran Kirk Hinrich has played a key role in Chicago's remarkably steady season, starting 50 of the Bulls' 62 games, and averaging 9.0 points and 3.9 assists.

After Hinrich's 18-point night helped Chicago beat the East's top team, Indiana, earlier this week, Sam Smith of bulls.com wrote that the former Kansas guard reflects the hard work of the Bulls, even though he might get overlooked.

As the article touches on, Hinrich hasn't had a stellar shooting season (39% field goals, 35% 3-pointers). He told Smith:

“The hard thing is when it’s not going in and you are not making it to stay confident and looking for your shot. But I feel I’ve done a better job (the last few months). I feel I’ve turned a corner in that regard.”

Chicago (40-31) currently holds the No. 4 seed in the East.


X, man

Milwaukee Bucks' Giannis Antetokounmpo can not stop Los Angeles Lakers' Xavier Henry from dunking the ball during the first half of an NBA basketball game Thursday, March 27, 2014, in Milwaukee. (AP Photo/Tom Lynn)

Milwaukee Bucks' Giannis Antetokounmpo can not stop Los Angeles Lakers' Xavier Henry from dunking the ball during the first half of an NBA basketball game Thursday, March 27, 2014, in Milwaukee. (AP Photo/Tom Lynn)

Xavier Henry had to hit the pause button on the best season of his career when he was diagnosed with an abnormality of the lateral meniscus in his right knee.

After missing all of January and February, Henry (10.3 points per game, 42.2% shooting) returned to the Los Angeles Lakers' lineup in March, and has played in 11 of L.A.'s 12 games since then.

He dropped 24 points on San Antonio on March 19 in a loss, and later scored 22 on 8-of-11 shooting in a win against the Knicks earlier this week.

As you can see, the knee is doing just fine.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qq9NIzopEEY

Still, as Mark Medina wrote for the Los Angeles Daily News, teammates both admire and worry about the explosive Henry.

Fearless attacks on the rim have proven to be the norm for Henry, who hurt his left wrist doing so after returning from his knee injury. So the Lakers try to convince him to take it easy.

Here's what Henry told Medina of his teammates' conversations:

“All the time they tell me I’m crazy. They say, ‘What are you doing this for? You have nothing to prove.’ I have something to prove to myself. I’m not quitting. I’m not going to take a step back.”


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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.

None by tyshawn taylor

None by Keef Morris

None by Mario Chalmers

None by Cole Aldrich

None by Xavier Henry

None by Ben McLemore


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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:

None by Xavier Henry



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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Markieff Morris ejected; now has eight technicals

Phoenix Suns' Markieff Morris (11) is defended by New York Knicks' Amar'e Stoudemire (1) during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Monday, Jan. 13, 2014, in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

Phoenix Suns' Markieff Morris (11) is defended by New York Knicks' Amar'e Stoudemire (1) during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Monday, Jan. 13, 2014, in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

It's been a rough couple of days in The Association for the Phoenix Suns' Markieff Morris.

First, the typically versatile big man went scoreless in a Saturday loss at Detroit.

Then on Monday at Madison Square Garden, Markieff got tossed from the Suns' game against the New York Knicks after earning his second technical foul in the second quarter.

As reported by Andrew Gilstrap at ArizonaSports.com, the first "T" came early in the second, when Kieff objected to a traveling call.

A few minutes later, after Kieff drew a foul on JR Smith while going up for a dunk attempt, he didn't like the way Smith invaded his personal space and threw Smith's arm off of him.

In case you're counting — by the way, the NBA is, because the league suspends players once they reach 16 technical fouls in a season — Markieff is halfway there, with eight.

If he keeps it up, Markieff might catch up with league leader DeMarcis Cousins, of Sacramento. Kieff's eight "T's" currently tie him for second in the NBA with the Los Angeles Clippers' Blake Griffin. Cousins leads the way with 10.


Hinrich highlight

Chicago Bulls guard Kirk Hinrich (12) drives past Washington Wizards guard John Wall, left, as Joakim Noah (13) watches during the first half of an NBA basketball game Monday, Jan. 13, 2014, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)

Chicago Bulls guard Kirk Hinrich (12) drives past Washington Wizards guard John Wall, left, as Joakim Noah (13) watches during the first half of an NBA basketball game Monday, Jan. 13, 2014, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)

Hey, not every former Jayhawk had a lousy Monday night. Well … actually no one was that great, either.

But, hey! Kirk Hinrich made SportCenter's Top 10. Now, given that Hinrich plays basketball and Top-10 plays usually involve monster throw-downs, you can probably guess Hinrich did something else to earn some extra TV time. I mean, it's not like Chicago Bulls fans are calling him Air Hinrich, or anything close to that.

The always heady point guard improvised on the fly against Washington, realizing mid-air, upon receiving a pass, that his best move was to keep the ball moving to an open shooter, Jimmy Butler. To add a little flair, Hinrich threw the pass behind his back.

Check it out:


McLemore looks to succeed in bench role

Sacramento Kings shooting guard Ben McLemore (16) battles Atlanta Hawks power forward Paul Millsap on a jump-ball in the first half of an NBA basketball game on Wednesday, Dec. 18, 2013, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

Sacramento Kings shooting guard Ben McLemore (16) battles Atlanta Hawks power forward Paul Millsap on a jump-ball in the first half of an NBA basketball game on Wednesday, Dec. 18, 2013, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

Sacramento rookie Ben McLemore recently learned playing time is far from a guarantee in the NBA. After starting 26 games for the Kings, coach Michael Malone decided to move the high-flying rookie to the bench following a slump.

Jonathan Santiago, at the Cowbell Kingdom blog, offers some insightful quotes on the situation.

“I think he’s pretty confident,” Malone said (last) week of McLemore. “But when you put maybe five to six games together where you’re not getting many looks, your shot’s not going in and then you’re playing against some of the two guards out here in the west and in the NBA as a whole, it’s a handful every night."

The Cowbell Kingdom piece also provided McLemore's take on adjusting to playing as a reserve.

“Same mentality,” McLemore said. “Just going out there, giving my all, doing whatever coach wants me to do offensively and defensively and just going out there and do some things to help my teammates and help the team win the game.”

Skip ahead to about the 0:15 mark of the below clip to see McLemore take out whatever frustrations he has with the situation on the rim.

In his last 10 games, McLemore has reached double figures just once, scoring 13 points on New Year's Eve against Houston.


Injury roundup

  • Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun Sentinel reports Mario Chalmers, who has missed three games with Achilles tendinitis, should be back in the Miami Heat's lineup tonight at Washington

  • L.A. Times Lakers beat writer Mike Bresnahan provided an update on Xavier Henry:



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