Entries from blogs tagged with “NBA”

League-leading 3-point shooter Andrew Wiggins barely shoots from downtown on way to 47

Minnesota Timberwolves forward Andrew Wiggins (22) drives to the basket and is fouled by Los Angeles Lakers center Timofey Mozgov (20) in the first half of an NBA basketball game, Sunday, Nov. 13, 2016, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Bruce Kluckhohn)

Minnesota Timberwolves forward Andrew Wiggins (22) drives to the basket and is fouled by Los Angeles Lakers center Timofey Mozgov (20) in the first half of an NBA basketball game, Sunday, Nov. 13, 2016, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Bruce Kluckhohn)

You probably already knew former Kansas standout Andrew Wiggins was a better NBA player than many around the league. Take, I don’t know, every player who starts for the Los Angeles Lakers, for example. Wiggins is definitely better than Julius Randle, Luol Deng, Timofey Mozgov, D’Angelo Russell and Nick “Swaggy P” Young, right?

As if we needed any confirmation of this fact, Wiggins provided it Sunday by scoring a new career-high 47 points — as many as the Lakers’ starting five combined.

The Timberwolves’ ever-improving wing would’ve reached 50 points — and outscored L.A’s starters by himself — had a late 3-pointer not misfired.

Minnesota’s home crowd, the Star Tribune reported, badly wanted Wiggins to hit 50.

“Not as bad as me,” Wiggins said afterward.

One of the crazy factors in the 6-foot-8 small forward’s massive night is he reached 47 points with just two of five 3-pointers falling through the net. Keep in mind: Wiggins actually leads the league in 3-point shooting (17-for-31) at 54.8%.

Wiggins quickly eclipsed his previous career high of 36 — set less than a week before against Brooklyn — by working the Lakers over with his jumper and getting to the paint, making 14 of 21 shots overall.

Andrew Wiggins' shot chart — 47 points vs. Lakers (Nov. 13, 2016)
[LA = league average | DST = shot distribution]

Andrew Wiggins' shot chart — 47 points vs. Lakers (Nov. 13, 2016) [LA = league average | DST = shot distribution]

Plus, he lived at the free-throw line, what with the Lakers’ inability to stop him offensively. Wiggins shot 17-for-22 at the charity stripe — both easily season highs — to improve his season free-throw shooting percentage to 74.1%.

The offensive explosion came on the second day of a back-to-back, after Wiggins attempted more shots (8-for-24) in a 22-point effort against L.A.’s far superior team, the Clippers.

“I shot 24 times yesterday and Coach Thibs (Tom Thibodeau) told me to be more aggressive,” Wiggins told the Star Tribune. “So I said, ‘All right,’ and I just went for it.”

There are still months to play in the season, but at this juncture Wiggins qualifies as one of the NBA’s better scorers. Averaging 26.3 points a game, he ranks ninth in the category. Still, Thibodeau sees even more potential in his 21-year-old wing.

“He’s smart. He’s driven,” the first-year T’wolves coach told the Star Tribune. “I think sometimes people mistakenly take it that he’s laid back. He’s competitive. He’s just scratching the surface. I think he can be a lot more. … I don’t want to put a lid on it. It’s what he wants it to be.”

Minnesota (3-6) has another future all-star in Karl-Anthony Towns, but the franchise could use an assertive Wiggins carrying much of the scoring load as the team tries to reach the NBA Playoffs for the first time since 2004.

Though it seems inevitable, the Timberwolves still have quite a journey in front of them before they can reach the upper echelon of the Western Conference, and that day likely won’t come for a couple more seasons. Once they get there, though, games like this one from Wiggins will qualify as key milepost markers along that pilgrimage.

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Andrew Wiggins — Not just a dunker anymore?

Minnesota Timberwolves forward Andrew Wiggins (22) shoots over Brooklyn Nets center Justin Hamilton (41) during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2016, in New York. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

Minnesota Timberwolves forward Andrew Wiggins (22) shoots over Brooklyn Nets center Justin Hamilton (41) during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2016, in New York. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

With the growing buzz emanating from Philadelphia thanks to Joel Embiid, it’s become easy of late to overlook another former Kansas basketball player on his way to NBA stardom.

Also overshadowed on his own team by superstar-in-the-making Karl-Anthony Towns, perhaps Andrew Wiggins did enough in his first two years with Minnesota to ignore his progress the first few weeks of this season.

Big mistake. The Timberwolves (1-5) have yet to prove worthy of their preseason hype, but Wiggins looks even more assertive and impressive than a year ago, when he averaged 20.7 points a game.

In four of his six starts, Wiggins has scored 25 or more points. Tuesday night at Brooklyn, the 21-year-old Canadian sensation went for career-highs with 36 points and six 3-pointers.

Whether it’s just a hot start or a sign of things to come, Wiggins’ 3-point shooting in Year 3 has far exceeded what anyone could’ve envisioned for the hyper-athletic, 6-foot-8 wing. After making only 31% from downtown as a rookie and dipping to 30% in 2015-16, Wiggins has caught fire, draining 12 of 18 — 66.7% — on the young season. And while it is way too early to consider him the league’s newest marksman, the fact is Wiggins leads The Association in 3-point percentage, currently sharing that distinction with none other than Embiid (6-for-9).

If Wiggins can make defenders fear his outside touch consistently, the ferocious slasher and dunker could develop into quite a force on the perimeter.

On a career night, though, Wiggins told the Star Tribune following a nine-point road loss to the Nets he felt disappointed in his lack of production at the foul line, where he went 4-for-8. One of his biggest strengths on offense is driving to draw contact, but so far this season Wiggins is only making 68.9% of his free throws.

“I’ve been working on them,” he told the Star Tribune. “I’m shooting worse than last year (76.1%). I’ve just got to keep repetition, working on it in practice.”

Wiggins didn’t see any point in basking in his big individual success, either:

“I’d rather do less and we win. Winning is what we all want to do. Losing is never fun.”

The future all-star can be a pleasure to watch, though, especially on nights like that.

Wiggins and his young teammates are holding themselves to higher standards, but they are just getting started under a new head coach, Tom Thibodeau, and it’s hard to imagine the T’wolves continuing to lose at this rate. A couple weeks into an 82-game grind, Minnesota is in the middle of the pack in defensive rating (103.4, tied for 14th). That figures to improve under Thibodeau, and if the defense makes a jump in the right direction while Wiggins continues climbing toward significant offensive refinement, this could be the first of many successful seasons to come for the former No. 1 overall pick and the franchise.

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Joel Embiid instant fan favorite in Philly, where he scored 20 in debut

Philadelphia 76ers' Joel Embiid, right, shoots the ball with Oklahoma City Thunder's Steven Adams, left, defending during the second half of an NBA basketball game, Wednesday, Oct. 26, 2016, in Philadelphia. The Thunder won 103-97. (AP Photo/Chris Szagola)

Philadelphia 76ers' Joel Embiid, right, shoots the ball with Oklahoma City Thunder's Steven Adams, left, defending during the second half of an NBA basketball game, Wednesday, Oct. 26, 2016, in Philadelphia. The Thunder won 103-97. (AP Photo/Chris Szagola)

The future has arrived. Joel Embiid made his official NBA debut Wednesday night and did not disappoint.

After two full seasons of watching from the sidelines and rehabbing foot injuries, the 7-foot-2 phenom dazzled on his Philadelphia launch date, the 2016-17 regular-season home opener.

Embiid scored 20 points, grabbed, seven rebounds, blocked two shots — while playing just 22 minutes — and left the 76ers’ fans dreaming about the greatness ahead for the 22-year-old center, who heard chants of “Trust The Process” and “MVP” directed his way during a couple of trips to the free-throw line, where he went 7-for-8.

The young big man, who looked the part of a franchise centerpiece, did miss 10 shots, going 6-for-16. But remember: this was his very first real NBA game (no offense, preseason) and Embiid played on a minutes restriction. Sixers coach Brett Brown started him, but stuck to playing the former Kansas standout in four- to five-minute shifts — according to the organization’s strategy for easing their valuable young asset back onto the floor, in hope of avoiding another major injury setback. Between the newness of competing at that level, dealing with pesky Oklahoma City big man Steven Adams and frequently subbing out of the game, Embiid handled it all quite well.

"I try to make it a regular day," Embiid told The Inquirer before the game, during a session with reporters. "It's hard. You think what you've gone through the past two years, the loss of my brother and having to get another surgery and all of the ups and downs."

None of those factors appeared to bother him once the nationally televised game began. Fittingly, Embiid’s first pro bucket came on a move that highlighted his crafty footwork and soft shooting touch. After catching the ball at the top of the key, the big man dribbled toward the foul line, gave a shoulder fake one direction, pivoted away from his defender and drained a smooth fall-away jumper.

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Even though Philadelphia lost to Oklahoma City, 76ers fans fell in love with their new big, who showcased a borderline ludicrous face-up game for a man his size, blocked Russell Westbrook — like THE Russell Westbrook — on a drive to the rim and even knocked down a 3-pointer.

Afterward, Brown spoke glowingly of his center from Cameroon.

"For a city to be rewarded for a player that we all understand has special gifts," Brown said in The Inquirer’s recap, "and play like he played, the city deserves it. Most importantly, he deserves it."

And Thunder coach Billy Donovan didn’t hold back his praises of Embiid, either.

"He's hard to guard," Donovan said in Keith Pompey’s game story for The Inquirer. "He's herky-jerky. He's got a lot of (Hakeem) Olajuwon in him."

Joel Embiid has arrived. And the scary thing for the rest of the NBA is he’s only going to get better.

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Counting Down the Most Interesting KU Players to Watch This NBA Season

— Part 1: Numbers 15 through 11

— Part 2: Numbers 10 through 6

— Part 3: Numbers 5 through 1

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Counting down the most interesting KU players to watch this NBA season — Part 3

As the 82-game, nearly six-month-long marathon known as the NBA regular season begins this week, the league’s 30 team rosters feature 15 players from the University of Kansas.

In order to get KU basketball fans up to speed on what they should expect from the Jayhawks representing their beloved program at the highest level, we decided to rank KU’s current pros, counting down from No. 15 to No. 1, in terms of which players will be the most interesting to follow in the months to come.

We now arrive at the cream of the KU crop. You could argue where each of the following players would fall in the rankings, but these are the five most talented Jayhawks employed by the NBA right now. Remember, this isn’t a list of who’s best, though. We’re talking about which players you’re going to make a point to watch when you see their team is playing on TV (or on your tablet or phone or laptop).

— Part 1: Numbers 15 through 11

— Part 2: Numbers 10 through 6

No. 5: Markieff Morris — Washington Wizards

Washington Wizards' Markieff Morris plays against the Cleveland Cavaliers during an NBA preseason basketball game Tuesday, Oct. 18, 2016, in Columbus, Ohio. (AP Photo/Jay LaPrete)

Washington Wizards' Markieff Morris plays against the Cleveland Cavaliers during an NBA preseason basketball game Tuesday, Oct. 18, 2016, in Columbus, Ohio. (AP Photo/Jay LaPrete)

The starting power forward on a team expecting to make the Eastern Conference Playoffs, Markieff Morris seems poised for the best season of his NBA career.

Markieff (angrily) began 2015-16 playing for Phoenix, the organization that had just split him up from twin brother Marcus by trading his sibling away to Detroit. The Suns finally moved Markieff to Washington before the trade deadline this past February, but you got the sense he didn’t quite reach his full offensive capacity with the Wizards in the weeks that followed.

Upon arriving in D.C., Markieff certainly wasn’t bad. He averaged 12.4 points and 5.9 rebounds and shot 46.7% from the floor (far better than his 39.7% in Phoenix in the 37 games leading up to the move). But it’s easy to see him improving upon all his numbers during his upcoming sixth pro season. He’s not entering a team late in a campaign. The Wizards have a new player-friendly head coach in Scott Brooks. Markieff now has a better feel for playing with all-star point guard John Wall and should help the Wizards stretch the floor while center Marcin Gortat plays in the post.

Washington advanced in the playoffs two straight springs before taking a step backward and missing the postseason in 2016. If Markieff makes them better by maximizing his talents he will gain the sort of league-wide respect he has yet to attain.

No. 4: Marcus Morris — Detroit Pistons

Detroit Pistons' Marcus Morris (13) tries to go to the basket against Toronto Raptors' DeMarre Carroll, center, and Jonas Valanciunas during the first half of an NBA preseason basketball game Wednesday, Oct. 19, 2016, in Auburn Hills, Mich. (AP Photo/Duane Burleson)

Detroit Pistons' Marcus Morris (13) tries to go to the basket against Toronto Raptors' DeMarre Carroll, center, and Jonas Valanciunas during the first half of an NBA preseason basketball game Wednesday, Oct. 19, 2016, in Auburn Hills, Mich. (AP Photo/Duane Burleson)

You never know how a season will play out, but as 2016-17 begins, it seems Detroit, the team Marcus Morris plays for, is considered more of a sure thing in the East than Washington, current home of his brother, Markieff.

The twins play similar complimentary roles for their respective franchises but Marcus, unlike his bro, enters his sixth year in the league on the heels of his most impressive season since the duo left Kansas. A reserve the vast majority of his time in Phoenix, Marcus became a starter with the Pistons and responded by producing the best numbers of his career: 14.1 points, 5.1 rebounds, 2.5 assists. He also shot 43.4% from the floor and made 108 3-pointers (36.2%).

Detroit point guard and leading scorer Reggie Jackson is out with an injury for a few weeks, so Detroit could start slowly, but some around the league think the Pistons could end up being one of the top three teams in the East not named Cleveland. Should Detroit pull that off, Morris’ role in that rise would be hard to ignore.

No. 3: Ben McLemore — Sacramento Kings

Sacramento Kings guard Ben McLemore, right, drives to the basket as Los Angeles Clippers guard Raymond Felton tries to fight through a screen during the second half of an NBA preseason basketball game in Sacramento, Calif., Tuesday, Oct. 18, 2016. The Clippers won 92-89. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)

Sacramento Kings guard Ben McLemore, right, drives to the basket as Los Angeles Clippers guard Raymond Felton tries to fight through a screen during the second half of an NBA preseason basketball game in Sacramento, Calif., Tuesday, Oct. 18, 2016. The Clippers won 92-89. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)

Both of the Morris twins are more accomplished in the NBA than Ben McLemore, but the fourth-year shooting guard is entering the most important season of his professional career.

McLemore’s name has come up in Sacramento trade rumors for the past year of so, and that’s a trend that figures to continue in the weeks and months ahead. The Kings, per usual, have a new head coach, Dave Joerger. Just how McLemore fits into Joerger’s plans remains to be seen.

Early signs indicate McLemore, who averaged a career-low 7.8 points in 2015-16, won’t start for Sacramento any more, with Arron Afflalo playing 2-guard on the first unit. Can McLemore thrive as scoring sixth man? Are the Kings just diminishing his role because they plan on trading him away at the first possible chance?

Once next July gets here, McLemore will be a restricted free agent — regardless of which team he suits up for to close the season. So now would be the ideal time to make a leap in production and 3-point shooting (34.6% for his career). Maybe a change in scenery would help him reach that untapped potential.

No. 2: Andrew Wiggins — Minnesota Timberwolves

Minnesota Timberwolves' Andrew Wiggins (22) dunks against the Golden State Warriors during the second half of an NBA basketball game Tuesday, April 5, 2016, in Oakland, Calif. Minnesota won 124-117 in overtime. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

Minnesota Timberwolves' Andrew Wiggins (22) dunks against the Golden State Warriors during the second half of an NBA basketball game Tuesday, April 5, 2016, in Oakland, Calif. Minnesota won 124-117 in overtime. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

Already a highlight Vine waiting to happen, third-year wing Andrew Wiggins’ career trajectory should make another explosive leap upward this year as a rising star for the league darling Minnesota Timberwolves.

In his second season, Wiggins broke the 20-point barrier for his scoring average, putting up 20.7 a night, while complimenting future superstar big man Karl-Anthony Towns. We shouldn’t expect him to take that average to 25 this year or anything crazy. But you’d like to see him improve his shooting percentages: 48.6% on 2-pointers last year, and 30% from behind the 3-point line.

Assuming Wiggins can help those numbers out himself through shot selection and just natural improvement through development — the man hasn’t even turned 22 yet — he’s going to become a more dangerous offensive player in Year 3.

Even more fascinating, though, will be the impact new T’wolves head coach Tom Thibodeau has on Wiggins. A defensive guru, Thibodeau could transform the 6-foot-8, high-flying forward into a monster on defense. And the more stops Wiggins and company get on that end, the more chances Minnesota will have to get out in the open floor and finish fast breaks with Wiggins jams.

No. 1: Joel Embiid — Philadelphia 76ers

Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid celebrates after scoring against the Miami Heat during the second half of an NBA preseason basketball game, Friday, Oct. 21, 2016, in Miami. (AP Photo/Alan Diaz)

Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid celebrates after scoring against the Miami Heat during the second half of an NBA preseason basketball game, Friday, Oct. 21, 2016, in Miami. (AP Photo/Alan Diaz)

Forget the qualification of Jayhawks in the league. Rookie center Joel Embiid is one of the most intriguing players in the NBA this season. Period. But you probably knew that before you clicked on this post.

For the love of all things basketball, injuries have deprived us all of watching Embiid’s crazy array of post moves and deft touch for more than two years. We’ve seen glimpses already in the preseason of the promise the big man from Cameroon showed in his abbreviated one-and-done season at Kansas.

Even though Philadelphia has limited Embiid’s minutes early on to make sure his foot problems don’t resurface, the early results have been spectacular.

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He’s 7-foot-2. He can handle the ball. He can knock down jumpers. He can protect the rim. He has moves in the post to score over his defender. The potential for Embiid seems limitless. Then again, he should’ve been a rookie two years ago but his body didn’t allow it.

Can Embiid make it through a full season without suffering another major injury setback? If he does, his overall game and confidence will only skyrocket.

The coming months will determine where the Embiid story goes next. If he stays relatively healthy, he has as legit a shot as anyone at winning Rookie of the Year. And the seasons to come just might include all-star appearances, all-NBA teams and carrying a declining franchise back to its former glory.

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Counting down the most interesting KU players to watch this NBA season — Part 2

As the 82-game, nearly six-month-long marathon known as the NBA regular season begins this week, the league’s 30 team rosters feature 15 players from the University of Kansas.

In order to get KU basketball fans up to speed on what they should expect from the Jayhawks representing their beloved program at the highest level, we decided to rank KU’s current pros, counting down from No. 15 to No. 1, in terms of which players will be the most interesting to follow in the months to come.

We now move to Nos. 10-6. A couple of these former Kansas stars are entering the primes of their career and poised to make real impacts as key reserves.

Another’s days in The Association are numbered, one is attempting to finally establish himself and the other is just getting his feet wet in the NBA.

— Part 1: Numbers 15 through 11

— Part 3: Numbers 5 through 1

No. 10: Tarik Black — Los Angeles Lakers

New Orleans Pelicans guard Tim Frazier (2) goes to the basket against Los Angeles Lakers center Tarik Black (28) during the first half of an NBA basketball game in New Orleans, Friday, April 8, 2016. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

New Orleans Pelicans guard Tim Frazier (2) goes to the basket against Los Angeles Lakers center Tarik Black (28) during the first half of an NBA basketball game in New Orleans, Friday, April 8, 2016. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

After he went undrafted in 2014, who would have thought Tarik Black would be in the league two years later, let alone playing a crucial reserve role for one of the most recognizable franchises on the planet?

True, this is not the Showtime Lakers of the glory 1980s nor the Shaq and Kobe Lakers of 15 years ago. At best, L.A. is a young team building toward what it hopes can become another era of title chases. Those days, if they return, are years away. For now Black will try and be a building block for the future, along with young recent lottery picks such as D’Angelo Russell and Brandon Ingram.

If you watched the 6-foot-9 center play at KU, you know his game: utilize that bulk in the paint to defend and rebound, work hard, finish strong. Those characteristics already have turned Black into a bit of a fan favorite and secured him a guaranteed contract for this season.

Black apparently wasn’t valued by former Lakers coach Byron Scott, who only played him 12.7 minutes a game last year, but Black seems to be in a better situation with Luke Walton taking over, and he’ll back up L.A.’s starting center, Timofey Mozgov.

No. 9: Paul Pierce — Los Angeles Clippers

Los Angeles Clippers forward Paul Pierce, right, takes the ball away from Utah Jazz forward Trey Lyles, left, during the first half of an NBA preseason basketball game in Los Angeles, Monday, Oct. 10, 2016. (AP Photo/Alex Gallardo)

Los Angeles Clippers forward Paul Pierce, right, takes the ball away from Utah Jazz forward Trey Lyles, left, during the first half of an NBA preseason basketball game in Los Angeles, Monday, Oct. 10, 2016. (AP Photo/Alex Gallardo)

This is it for Paul Pierce. His 19th NBA season will be his last. And, realistically, at 39 years old, there is only so much the former perennial all-star’s legs will allow him to do on the basketball court at this point.

We won’t see “The Truth” take over fourth quarters like he so often did for Boston in his 15 seasons with the Celtics. Last year with the Clippers, Pierce only played 18.1 minutes a game and scored 6.1 points — both by far career lows. Though a future hall of famer, Pierce has reached a point where the Clippers are better off playing guys such as Luc Richard Mbah a Moute and, at times, Wesley Johnson at small forward in their otherwise superb starting lineup.

The intrigue in watching Pierce play this season comes from knowing it’s his last. What does he have left in that tank? Will he play better this year than last, knowing he can give it all and spend the rest of his life resting?

You know he’s going to have a night or two when he catches fire and looks like vintage Pierce for a stretch, and that will be fun to see, as will the tributes he gets from various organizations as he plays in visiting arenas for the final time.

Here’s one date you’ll want to mark on your calendar for the Clippers: Sunday, Feb. 5. It will be the final time Pierce plays in front of a Boston crowd that adores the 2008 NBA Finals MVP.

No. 8: Cole Aldrich — Minnesota Timberwolves

Minnesota Timberwolves center Cole Aldrich (45) blocks a shot by Denver Nuggets forward Jarnell Stokes (12) during the second half of an NBA preseason basketball game in Lincoln, Neb., Wednesday, Oct. 12, 2016. The Minnesota Timberwolves won 105-88. (AP Photo/Nati Harnik)

Minnesota Timberwolves center Cole Aldrich (45) blocks a shot by Denver Nuggets forward Jarnell Stokes (12) during the second half of an NBA preseason basketball game in Lincoln, Neb., Wednesday, Oct. 12, 2016. The Minnesota Timberwolves won 105-88. (AP Photo/Nati Harnik)

Last season, while playing with Pierce in L.A., Cole Aldrich established himself as a valuable reserve center in the NBA. Even while playing only 13.3 minutes a game, the burly 6-foot-11 Aldrich routinely made a positive impact in the paint as a rebounder and rim protector and averaged 5.5 points and 4.8 rebounds, while converting 59.6% of his shot attempts.

Aldrich’s best pro season to date came at an ideal time, too, with the big man hitting the free agent market this past summer. He signed with his hometown Timberwolves, one of the league’s up-and-coming franchises for three years and $22 million.

Now 27 years old, Aldrich gets to take his enforcer role to Minnesota’s second unit. When the team’s young star Karl-Anthony Towns or Gorgui Dieng aren’t in the game to control the paint, it will be up to Aldrich to make sure the T’wolves’ interior defense doesn’t experience much of a drop-off.

Minnesota is expected to become one of the more exciting teams in the league to follow, and for KU fans, there is no better bandwagon to hop onto, with Aldrich teaming up with fellow Jayhawks Brandon Rush and Andrew Wiggins.

No. 7: Thomas Robinson — Los Angeles Lakers

Los Angeles Lakers' Thomas Robinson, left, and Sacramento Kings' Skal Labissiere fight for a rebound during the second half of an NBA preseason basketball game Tuesday, Oct. 4, 2016, in Anaheim, Calif. The Lakers won 103-84. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

Los Angeles Lakers' Thomas Robinson, left, and Sacramento Kings' Skal Labissiere fight for a rebound during the second half of an NBA preseason basketball game Tuesday, Oct. 4, 2016, in Anaheim, Calif. The Lakers won 103-84. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

We don’t know how much — or how little — former KU star Thomas Robinson will play during his first season with the Lakers. Honestly, it seems another Jayahwk on this list, Black, will feature far more prominently in L.A.’s plans.

Robinson, playing on a one-year, non-guaranteed contract, didn’t even know during the preseason whether he’d make the team’s roster. So he has a long way to go before breaking into the rotation. The months ahead seem intriguing for Robinson, though, because this is his sixth team in five seasons. Organization after organization has passed on retaining the backup power forward. Will the Lakers do the same? Will they even keep him around for the entire season?

The answers to those questions have a lot to do with how the 6-foot-10, 25-year-old Robinson approaches his place in the roster hierarchy. The Lakers have far more invested in bigs Julius Randle, Mozgov, Larry Nance Jr. and Black than Robinson. He’ll have to prove himself more deserving of playing time than one or two of his frontcourt teammates to feature prominently on this young team building for the future.

It might take an injury to one of those other post players for Robinson to get a long look from Walton and his staff. How will Robinson respond when his chance comes? That’s what will be compelling to observe. He has yet to live up to his position as a lottery pick — will this be the year he finally does?

No. 6: Kelly Oubre Jr. — Washington Wizards

Washington Wizards forward Kelly Oubre Jr. (12) dunks during an NBA preseason basketball game against the Sacramento Kings on Saturday, Oct. 15, 2016, in Lexington, Ky. (AP Photo/James Crisp)

Washington Wizards forward Kelly Oubre Jr. (12) dunks during an NBA preseason basketball game against the Sacramento Kings on Saturday, Oct. 15, 2016, in Lexington, Ky. (AP Photo/James Crisp)

A year ago, appropriately, Kelly Oubre Jr. looked like a 20-year-old rookie not quite skilled enough to make a sustainable impact on an NBA floor.

Now in his second season with Washington, Oubre, who will turn 21 in December, is starting to fit in much better. Whether that’s the result of learning from his first-year struggles, the Wizards hiring a new head coach in Scott Brooks or a combination of the two, look for the 6-foot-7 lefty’s production to spike upward in Year 2.

Say goodbye to the days of Oubre playing only 10 minutes and averaging 3.7 points. Though still playing a reserve role, behind Otto Porter Jr., Oubre looked better suited to contribute during the preseason. He played 25.5 minutes a game for D.C. this past month in exhibitions, and scored 13.1 points while making 49.2% of his field goals.

To take the next step in his career, Oubre will have to develop a better 3-point shot. He only made 25 of 79 last season (31.6%). During the preseason, it didn’t appear a drastic improvement is coming in the months ahead, as Oubre shot 6-for-17 (35.3%) from downtown.

Still, it seems Washington is far more interested in utilizing Oubre's growing skill set now than when he was a rookie.

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Counting down the most interesting KU players to watch this NBA season — Part 1

As the 82-game, nearly six-month-long marathon known as the NBA regular season begins this week, the league’s 30 team rosters feature 15 players from the University of Kansas.

In order to get KU basketball fans up to speed on what they should expect from the Jayhawks representing their beloved program at the highest level, we decided to rank KU’s current pros, counting down from No. 15 to No. 1, in terms of which players will be the most interesting to follow in the months to come.

We’ll start it off with Nos. 15-11. These former Kansas standouts probably aren’t going to begin trending on Twitter or make many headlines. Still, some will play key roles on playoff-caliber teams.

And one youngster will try to prove he belongs in the league.

— Part 2: Numbers 10 through 6

— Part 3: Numbers 5 through 1

No. 15: Darrell Arthur — Denver Nuggets

Denver Nuggets' Darrell Arthur poses for a photo during media day, Monday, Sept. 26, 2016, in Denver. (AP Photo/Jack Dempsey)

Denver Nuggets' Darrell Arthur poses for a photo during media day, Monday, Sept. 26, 2016, in Denver. (AP Photo/Jack Dempsey)

If Darrell Arthur was a football player, he’d be an interior lineman whose name never gets called on a broadcast. The 6-foot-9 forward just executes his assignments without much flash or fuss, and to the delight of his coaches, rarely makes mistakes.

While the eighth-year veteran from KU is well respected for his reliability and demeanor, coming off the bench for Denver to grab rebounds and successfully defend pick-and-rolls on the perimeter isn’t the most glamorous role in the NBA, and it’s for those reasons that our list begins with Arthur.

At 28, he’s in the prime of his career, and coming off a season in which he produced 7.5 points and 4.2 rebounds as a Nuggets reserve playing 21.7 minutes a game.

Arthur is a more valuable piece than some of the other Jayhawks in the league, but it’s just hard to envision fans stopping what they’re doing to tune in to a Denver game for the purposes of keeping up with his career.

No. 14: Nick Collison — Oklahoma City Thunder

Oklahoma City Thunder forward Nick Collison is pictured during the 2016-2017 Oklahoma City Thunder Media Day in Oklahoma City, Friday, Sept. 23, 2016. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)

Oklahoma City Thunder forward Nick Collison is pictured during the 2016-2017 Oklahoma City Thunder Media Day in Oklahoma City, Friday, Sept. 23, 2016. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)

Speaking of professionals, few veterans in the NBA are as respected for their dirty work as much as Nick Collison, aka Mr. Thunder. Entering his 13th season with the franchise, Collison’s gray beard hairs might bring him some grief from his much younger teammates, but the backup to Oklahoma City’s backup big men works so hard and knows the league so well that OKC likes to keep him around as a mentor and occasional fill-in.

The 35-year-old played a career-low 11.8 minutes a game last season, and when he does check into games we won’t see Collison do much more than compete for rebounds, takes some charges and dive on the floor. Still, OKC is embarking on its post-Kevin Durant era, and no player on the roster figures to influence how the Thunder go about handling the challenge ahead in the Western Conference, particularly behind the scenes, more than Russell Westbrook and Collison. Oklahoma City keeps Collison around because of what he brings to the locker room and the organization’s culture, but from a viewing standpoint it’s also entertaining to watch NBA old guys outcompete far superior athletes for a few minutes here and there.

No. 13: Jeff Withey — Utah Jazz

Utah Jazz center Jeff Withey (24) pulls away a rebound from Los Angeles Clippers center Marreese Speights (5) during the second half of an NBA preseason basketball game in Los Angeles, Monday, Oct. 10, 2016. The Jazz won 96-94. (AP Photo/Alex Gallardo)

Utah Jazz center Jeff Withey (24) pulls away a rebound from Los Angeles Clippers center Marreese Speights (5) during the second half of an NBA preseason basketball game in Los Angeles, Monday, Oct. 10, 2016. The Jazz won 96-94. (AP Photo/Alex Gallardo)

The backup 7-footer isn’t expected to play a ton for Utah, a franchise with a sneaky-deep roster which some around the NBA think will propel the Jazz into the playoffs this season, but Jeff Withey could be poised to make more of an impact on the court this season than he has since he left KU in 2013.

Witney has averaged just 11.0 minutes a game in his three professional seasons, but enters the year as the primary backup for Jazz center Rudy Gobert. It should be interesting to see if Withey can make a leap in his production with more opportunities. Per 36 minutes in 2015-16, the reserve center averaged 11.9 points, 9.5 rebounds and 2.9 blocks.

Don’t be surprised to see Withey swats or jams show up on social media or highlights shows, particularly when he plays a key part in the Jazz knocking off some of the more renowned teams in the league.

No. 12: Brandon Rush — Minnesota Timberwolves

Charlotte Hornets' Michael Kidd-Gilchrist shoots over Minnesota Timberwolves' Brandon Rush during the first quarter of an NBA preseason basketball game Friday, Oct. 21, 2016, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)

Charlotte Hornets' Michael Kidd-Gilchrist shoots over Minnesota Timberwolves' Brandon Rush during the first quarter of an NBA preseason basketball game Friday, Oct. 21, 2016, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)

A few years ago, going from Golden State to Minnesota would’ve seemed like a penthouse-to-outhouse move for Rush, a ninth-year guard. However, his free-agent signing with the Timberwolves this summer couldn’t have come at a better time. The franchise, built around young stars-in-the-making Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins, added one of the league’s best coaches, Tom Thibodeau, as well, in the offseason. The perennial lottery team could jump into the playoffs by season’s end, and the organization should only see more progress from there.

Plus, as thrilling as it must’ve been for Rush to play for the back-to-back West champion Warriors, he could contribute a lot more to a young Minnesota roster than he ever would’ve got a chance to do on Golden State’s star-studded perimeter.

Rush played 21.9 minutes a game for the T’wolves during the preseason, averaged 7.1 points and made 12 of his 20 3-pointers. Between his defensive ability and knack for spotting up behind the arc, Rush projects as a solid complimentary bench player for Minnesota.

No. 11: Cheick Diallo — New Orleans Pelicans

Cheick Diallo of the New Orleans Pelicans keeps the ball away from Gary Payton II of the Houston Rockets during a preseasons NBA game in Beijing, China, Wednesday, Oct. 12, 2016. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)

Cheick Diallo of the New Orleans Pelicans keeps the ball away from Gary Payton II of the Houston Rockets during a preseasons NBA game in Beijing, China, Wednesday, Oct. 12, 2016. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)

The guy barely played at Kansas. How is he going to get any run in the NBA? Actually, that’s what makes Cheick Diallo’s rookie season so intriguing.

Odds are New Orleans, much like KU coach Bill Self, won’t have much use for the 20-year-old off the bat. The 6-foot-9 big is too raw to be relied upon within a rotation at this point. However, the Pelicans seem to like his energy and down-the-road potential. There will be plenty of nights when Diallo doesn’t even suit up for his new team. When he does get spot minutes, they’ll come late in blowouts most likely.

Without a doubt, Diallo is a longterm project. The months ahead will include the first steps he’ll take toward whatever his career becomes: high-energy role player in the paint, highly-rated prep prospect that never met his full potential or somewhere in between? We’ll have to wait a few years to learn the answer.

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Thomas Robinson trying to earn roster spot with Lakers

Los Angeles Lakers' Thomas Robinson shoots against Golden State Warriors' James Michael McAdoo during the second half of an NBA preseason basketball game Saturday, Oct. 15, 2016, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)

Los Angeles Lakers' Thomas Robinson shoots against Golden State Warriors' James Michael McAdoo during the second half of an NBA preseason basketball game Saturday, Oct. 15, 2016, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)

No stranger to adversity, Thomas Robinson might be in for a few of the most stressful days of his professional career.

A bonafide college basketball star by the time he finished up at Kansas in 2012, Robinson months later became the No. 5 overall pick in the NBA Draft. Since then, though, the tough-nosed, explosive power forward has yet to carve out a niche for himself.

As of Tuesday morning, Robinson could call himself a member of the Los Angeles Lakers. However, there is no guarantee that will be the case when the regular season starts next week.

The Lakers have 17 players on their preseason roster. As reported by Mark Medina of The Orange County Register, L.A. has to trim that number to at least 15 before embarking on the quickly approaching 82-game grind.

Robinson is one of three Lakers on non-guaranteed training camp deals, along with the artist formerly known as Ron Artest, aka Metta World Peace, and center Yi Jianlian.

None by Mike Bresnahan

First-year NBA head coach Luke Walton told The Register that Robinson, a free agent this past summer, impressed the Lakers in workouts.

“The way he was working and the way he was winning, we thought we at least have to bring this guy to camp,” Walton said. “He looks great out here.”

The coach seems to like him, so that’s a positive for the 6-foot-10 25-year-old. Still, Robinson hasn’t played much off L.A.’s bench in the preseason:

- 7 minutes, 8 points, 7 rebounds vs. Sacramento

- 9 minutes, 0 points, 1 rebound vs. Denver

- 9 minutes, 1 point, 2 rebounds vs. Denver

- Did not play vs. Portland

- Did not play vs. Sacramento

- 7 minutes, 7 points, 4 rebounds vs. Golden State

In total, Robinson has produced 16 points and 14 rebounds in 30 preseason minutes, which doesn’t look too bad if you forget about the 8.1 minutes a game part of the equation. According to RealGM.com, Robinson’s preseason PER is 27.61. This of course is from a minimal sample size, but just to provide a reference point only five NBA players had a PER of 27 or higher last season.

Also helping Robinson’s cause, The Register reported he often wins drills at Lakers practices, getting his name atop what they call the “winner’s board.”

“I’m just trying to be who I am as a player,” Robinson said. “Those are exactly the things coach said.”

Drafted by Sacramento, Robinson also has played for Houston, Portland, Philadelphia and Brooklyn. He hopes the 2016-17 season will be his fifth in the league for his seventh different franchise. He told The Register he learned quickly not to take personnel decisions the wrong way or look at teams that moved him or declined to retain him with any malice.

“It’s never been anything personal,” he said. “When you get older, things don’t bother you as much.”

Oddly enough, Robinson likely would have an easier time sticking with L.A. if not for the presence of another former Kansas big man, Tarik Black. The Lakers already have a backup big to crash the glass, play with energy and do other dirty work assignments in the paint. Black, who has played each of the past two seasons with the organization, is averaging 7.8 points and 4.8 rebounds in 16.2 minutes this preseason, while shooting 59.1% from the floor.

Between Black, Julius Randle, Luol Deng, Larry Nance Jr., Timofey Mozgov and even early second-round pick Ivica Zubac, the Lakers have a lot of front court options. Robinson would have to leapfrog at least one or two of those players, as well as Yi, for L.A. to keep him around.

It seems the little things have held Robinson back through his years in the NBA. Take this example of JaVale McGee dunking on Robinson earlier this week. The former KU star deserves credit for rising up and contesting the jam. But he wouldn’t have been in that position had he stayed in the middle of the paint in proper help position, denying McGee the easiest route to the hoop in the first place.

None by B-Wobbit

Obviously, no defender is perfect and it sounds as if Walton sees Robinson’s redeeming qualities.

“He never takes plays off,” the L.A. coach said. “He’s a great guy. You want him around. He’s a monster on the offensive glass and has a great attitude with everything we’ve done.”

The Lakers have two more preseason games left before they play for real Wednesday, Oct. 26. We’ll know by then if Robinson will spend the months ahead in purple and gold or be forced to try and catch on with yet another franchise.

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Joel Embiid finally makes 76ers debut, two years after being drafted

Boston Celtics' Amir Johnson, right, guards Philadelphia 76ers' Joel Embiid, left, during the first half of an NBA preseason basketball game, Tuesday, Oct. 4, 2016, in Amherst, Mass. (AP Photo/Jessica Hill)

Boston Celtics' Amir Johnson, right, guards Philadelphia 76ers' Joel Embiid, left, during the first half of an NBA preseason basketball game, Tuesday, Oct. 4, 2016, in Amherst, Mass. (AP Photo/Jessica Hill)

Hey, everybody. Joel Embiid played basketball Tuesday night.

Big deal, right? Well, for the 22-year-old center from Cameroon it actually was.

Those familiar with Embiid know of his constant run of ailments dating back to his one-and-done season at Kansas. A back injury robbed the promising young big man of completing his freshman year on the court with the Jayhawks, and days before he became the third overall pick in the NBA Draft he fractured a bone in his right foot.

Before his preseason debut with Philadelphia, Embiid missed two consecutive seasons due to his foot issues. In total, he went 948 days without appearing in a game.

So, yeah, just playing in an otherwise meaningless exhibition seemed significant for Embiid and the 76ers.

"At the beginning, I was pretty nervous," Embiid told reporters after scoring 6 points, grabbing 4 rebounds and blocking 2 shots for the Sixers against Boston. "I think I had trouble breathing, so it was hard. But once I got the first bucket, everything started to slow down. I saw the game easier. I just felt like I was myself again."

None by Philadelphia 76ers

As chronicled by Keith Pompey of The Inquirer, Embiid started for Philadelphia but played on a minutes restriction as the organization eases him into his return to normal life as a basketball player. The big man missed his first three shot attempts before checking out for a breather.

When Embiid returned to the court, he showed off the footwork that so often wowed onlookers when he played for KU before knocking down a fadeaway jumper. Shortly after that, he denied Boston rookie Jaylen Brown at the rim.

"I thought I did better defensively," Embiid said after shooting 2-for-6 and turning the ball over three times. "Offensively, that's going to come. But defensively that was one of my goals, and I think I did better."

Sure to become a hit with the media, the gregarious 7-footer said it caught him by surprise when the Celtics’ defense focused on stopping him in the post.

"I was like, 'That's my first game. Second quarter,’” Embiid said. “‘Y’all really going to double-team, first game, second quarter?’”

The Sixers’ starting pivot said he planned to go back and review video from his debut and learn from the situations in which he felt uncomfortable. Head coach Brett Brown didn’t sound too worried about Embiid afterward.

“In Joel, you see a confidence and a swagger,” Brown said in a Courier Times story.

Brown and the Sixers’ brass limited Embiid to 12 minutes on his long-awaited launch date. The man who hadn’t played a game since KU traveled to Oklahoma State on March 1, 2014, left wanting more.

"Honestly, I thought the 12 minutes I was going to play I was going to score 40 points," Embiid joked (presumably).

None by Joel Embiid

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Cliff Alexander fighting to make Orlando’s roster

This is a 2016 photo of Cliff Alexander of the Orlando Magic basketball team. This image reflects the 2016 active roster as of Monday Sept. 26, 2016, in Orlando, Fla., when this photo was taken. (AP Photo/John Raoux)

This is a 2016 photo of Cliff Alexander of the Orlando Magic basketball team. This image reflects the 2016 active roster as of Monday Sept. 26, 2016, in Orlando, Fla., when this photo was taken. (AP Photo/John Raoux)

He went undrafted. In the offseason following his rookie year, he got cut. Cliff Alexander’s fight to make it in the NBA continues this month, as he plays in the preseason for Orlando.

For the time being, rosters league-wide are overflowing with options. Soon, though, that will change, as each franchise has to trim its list of on-court personnel to 15 for the regular season. What’s more, some organizations prefer to keep their rosters at 14 in order to provide some flexibility.

All of those factors make for a stressful October for players such as Alexander, working on a non-guaranteed contract.

Over at BasketballInsiders.com, Cody Taylor broke down Alexander’s chances of sticking with Orlando — a team that looks pretty set in the post, with Serge Ibaka, Bismack Biyombo, Aaron Gordon and Nikola Vucevic.

Alexander, of course, never quite lived up to the hype of a top high school prospect during his one season at Kansas, when he averaged 7.1 points, 5.3 rebounds and 1.3 blocks in 17.6 minutes per game. Though Portland picked him up as an undrafted free agent before last season, Alexander played sparingly for the Western Conference playoff team. The 6-foot-8 power forward appeared in just 8 games and finished his rookie season with 10 points and 6 rebounds in 36 minutes, total.

Nevertheless, Basketball Insiders examined whether Alexander could be the training camp player to nab the Magic’s final available roster spot.

“The 6-8 power forward figures to be an option because of his ability to add toughness to the front court,” Taylor wrote. “New Magic head coach Frank Vogel has said in the past that toughness is something he wants to see more of from the team, and Alexander is a player who fits that mold.”

In a recent video interview with Basketball Insiders, Alexander discussed how he ended up with Orlando during the offseason.

“I mean, I didn’t make that decision. My agency made that decision for me,” Alexander said with a smile at the Magic’s media day.

As little as the 20-year-old played for the Trail Blazers last season, he stuck with the organization all year. Alexander said that experience helped him progress.

“I feel like I’m a much better player,” Alexander said of his status entering what he hopes to be his second NBA season, “got a lot more aggressive on the rebounds, working on my 15-, 18-foot jump shot and just running the floor and just being aggressive.”

According to the young big man, Orlando’s assistant GM recently sent him some video clips of Cleveland’s Tristan Thompson and his current Magic teammate Biyombo, asking Alexander to study how aggressively they go after rebounds.

With so many established big men in Orlando’s front court, the former KU forward knows it could be difficult to earn a roster spot.

“Just battle, compete my ass off and just show these guys I ain’t no punk,” Alexander said of his approach. “I’m a young guy. That’s what they figure to realize and try to pick on me a little bit. But I’m from Chicago, I ain’t havin' none of that,” he added, laughing.

In his preseason debut Monday night against Memphis, Alexander only played six minutes off the bench. He connected on his only shot attempt and contributed one rebound, but missed a pair of free throws late in the game.

None by John Denton

Considering how little Vogel played him, you have to consider Alexander a very long shot to stick with Orlando. As pointed out by Basketball Insiders, most of the fringe preseason players the Magic has on the roster right now could end up in the D-League. Not that there’s anything wrong with that — particularly given Alexander’s youth and raw skill set.

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Markieff Morris’ Washington Wizards open camp in uncomfortable territory

When newly acquired power forward Markieff Morris realized where the Washington Wizards were hosting this year's preseason training camp, bad memories instant began flooding his mind.

See, the Wizards are conducting this year's camp at the home arena of Virginia Commonwealth University, the same VCU that knocked Morris and the Jayhawks out of the 2011 NCAA Tournament one game shy of the Final Four.

In an interview with WRIC's Mitch Carr, Morris expressed his frustration of having to practice under VCU's Final Four banner.

Now with his third team in his sixth NBA season, the 2011 NBA Draft lottery pick is projected to be the Wizards' starting power forward this season and is looking forward to playing alongside backcourt standouts John Wall and Bradley Beal.

During his first five seasons in the league — with Phoenix and Toronto — Morris, 27, has averaged 11.5 points and 5.4 rebounds in 372 career games.

Morris will be joined on this year's Wizards' roster by fellow former Jayhawk Kelly Oubre, who was the No. 15 overall pick in the 2015 NBA Draft after one year at Kansas.

Here's a look at the recent interview with Morris inside VCU's home gym:

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Paul Pierce announces coming season will be his last in NBA

Los Angeles Clippers' Paul Pierce, left, dribble against Milwaukee Bucks' Jabari Parker during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Wednesday, Dec. 16, 2015, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Danny Moloshok)

Los Angeles Clippers' Paul Pierce, left, dribble against Milwaukee Bucks' Jabari Parker during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Wednesday, Dec. 16, 2015, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Danny Moloshok)

Some of the other biggest names of his generation have retired, but Paul Pierce will forge ahead and play one more NBA season.

After a summer of contemplation, the former Kansas star, entering his 19th season in the league, announced Monday on The Players’ Tribune his intentions to play this coming year with the Los Angeles Clippers — and then retire. Pierce’s decision comes in the same offseason that saw such legends as Kobe Bryant, Tim Duncan and Pierce’s former Boston and Brooklyn teammate Kevin Garnett call it quits.

“You know, I’ve played a lot of years in this game. I’ve given this game all I’ve had all my life,” Pierce said in a recorded speech. “And just like any difficult decision that you’ve ever got to make in your life, I think you’ve really got to be at peace with yourself to make a decision like this. I realize that it’s time to move on from the game of basketball. It’s the toughest decision I’ve ever had to make in my life, but this is it. This is my final season.”

As the 10-time all-star indicated on The Players’ Tribune post, Pierce remains hopeful the Clippers — led by younger stars Chris Paul and Blake Griffin — can help the soon-to-be 39-year-old be a part of a championship level team in his final go-round through the NBA.

Pierce, of course, won a title with the Celtics in 2008, when he earned NBA Finals MVP honors.

For his career, “The Truth” has averaged 20.0 points, 5.7 rebounds and 3.6 assists, while shooting 44.5% from the floor. But his numbers have been on a steady decline since Boston, the team that drafted him 10th overall in 1998, traded him away to start rebuilding.

This past season, Pierce’s first with L.A. after stints with the Nets and Washington, he averaged career lows in minutes (18.1), points (6.1), field goals attempted (5.8), field goals made (2.1), field-goal percentage (36.3%), rebounds (2.7), assists (1.0) and steals (0.5).

“I think I’ve had an illustrious career,” Pierce said in The Players’ Tribune video. “I’m very satisfied with the work that I’ve been able to do over the past 18 years, and I realize that you can’t play forever. You know, this is a young man’s game, and as I get older and not being able to be as efficient and do a lot of the things I do, you know, the signs, you know, they’re there. You can’t reach the goals that you put out there for yourself like you’ve done in the past and it gets harder as you get older and the players get better. And I feel like I have one more opportunity on a great team and something to give on and off the court.”

— Watch Pierce’s entire announcement video below:

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Tough lessons have changed free agent Thomas Robinson’s approach

Cleveland Cavaliers' Timofey Mozgov, left, from Russia, and Brooklyn Nets' Thomas Robinson battle for a rebound in the second half of an NBA basketball game Thursday, March 31, 2016, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)

Cleveland Cavaliers' Timofey Mozgov, left, from Russia, and Brooklyn Nets' Thomas Robinson battle for a rebound in the second half of an NBA basketball game Thursday, March 31, 2016, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)

Thirty-plus days into free agency, former Kansas star Thomas Robinson remains a man without a team.

The fifth overall pick in the 2012 NBA Draft, Robinson spent all of last season with Brooklyn, a rarity for the backup power forward who already has played for five different franchises.

If demand for his services was high enough, Robinson already would have signed a new contract. Still, a report from BasketballInsiders.com suggests the 25-year-old big man also wants to take his time and find the right fit. After all, neither Sacramento, Houston, Portland, Philadelphia nor Brooklyn worked out for Robinson, who left KU with so much promise.

In Robinson’s rookie season with the Kings, he averaged 4.8 points and 4.7 rebounds in 51 games. Then Sacramento traded him to Houston, where, in 19 games, Robinson averaged 4.5 points and 4.1 rebounds.

Year No. 2 in the NBA for Robinson, while more stable — thanks to Portland adding him in the offseason and keeping him around for the duration of the year — didn’t bring more production: 4.8 points, 4.4 rebounds.

In 2014-15, Robinson was back on the move, but at least got to better show off his skills on an awful Philadelphia team, averaging 8.8 points and 7.7 rebounds in 22 appearances after the trade deadline.

However, after signing as a free agent with Brooklyn last summer, Robinson only got to play 12.9 minutes, putting up 4.3 points and 5.1 boards in his most recent campaign.

All of those stops around the league and tough lessons learned along the way have changed Robinson’s approach, he told Basketball Insiders. Now he understands he can still make an impact in the NBA, and earn the respect of his peers, by becoming a reliable, role-playing big, such as Bismack Biyombo or Tristan Thompson.

“I’ve matured so much,” Robinson said. “I see things completely different now. Coming in young, I’ll be honest, I didn’t want to hear, ‘Be a defender! Be a rebounder! That’s all you need to do!’ I didn’t want to hear those things. I’m okay at doing things other than just rebounding and defending, so I didn’t want to just do that. But after all of the trades and constantly hearing that, it sold me. I think the biggest sign of my maturity is the fact that I’m not striving for the same things that I was when I came into the league.”

The former King, Rocket, Blazer, Sixer and Net no longer has visions of becoming a superstar or, as he put it, trying to play like Kobe Bryant.

“I know that my job is strictly to be a solid rebounder and defender. I want to make it clear to everybody: that’s all I want to do,” Robinson told Basketball Insiders. “I want to be one of the best rebounders in the league and lock down anyone who comes my way.”

Alex Kennedy of Basketball Insiders suggests Robinson just needs minutes in order to produce, citing the athletic forward’s averages in seven starts for the Nets this past season: 14.6 points, 12.3 rebounds, 2.0 assists and 1.6 steal to go with 54.4% shooting.

And while Robinson himself admits some people around the NBA might have a misinformed opinion of him — that he’s “standoffish” or a bad person — some of his former co-workers gave him glowing reviews. On BasketballInsiders.com coaches and players used words such as “coachable,” “I loved working with him,” “great competitor,” “fearless rebounder,” and “always a very positive teammate” while describing the free-agent power forward.

Portland guard C.J. McCollum said he connected with “T-Rob” easily, because of the big man’s passion.

“I think he can help every team in this league with his skill set and motor,” McCollum added. “He just needs to get the right opportunity.”

So where will Robinson play in his fifth NBA season? Many teams have used up the bulk of their space under the league’s salary cap. According to sportrac.com, the organizations that still have plenty of wiggle room for larger contracts are Philadelphia, Denver, Brooklyn, Phoenix, Oklahoma City, Utah, Minnesota and Indiana. Now, that doesn’t mean those teams have the roster space or a need for Robinson. They could just afford to pay him more.

Other franchises, though, could still bring Robinson in on a veteran’s minimum deal. One such team reported to have interest in Robinson is the San Antonio Spurs.

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Training camp doesn’t open until September, so there is still plenty of time for Robinson to find a new (or perhaps former) team to join.

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A video posted by Thomas Robinson (@trobinson_foe) on

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Watch Joel Embiid arm-wrestle Justin Bieber in a night club

Philadelphia 76ers' Joel Embiid of Cameroon (21) reacts prior to the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Los Angeles Clippers, Monday, Feb. 8, 2016, in Philadelphia. The Clippers won 98-92 in overtime. (AP Photo/Chris Szagola)

Philadelphia 76ers' Joel Embiid of Cameroon (21) reacts prior to the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Los Angeles Clippers, Monday, Feb. 8, 2016, in Philadelphia. The Clippers won 98-92 in overtime. (AP Photo/Chris Szagola)

Joel Embiid, the No. 3 overall pick in the 2014 draft, has yet to play an NBA game, due to significant foot injuries.

Because of the aforementioned two seasons worth of missed action, Embiid tends to be the butt of social media jokes — sometimes just for the fun of it and other times in response to those who still believe there is greatness on the horizon for Philadelphia’s 7-foot-2 rookie-to-be.

So if you happened to see Embiid’s name pop up on Twitter today it would’ve been safe to assume some wisecracking fan thought it would be funny to say Embiid is so far removed from the actual sport of basketball that he spends his time arm-wrestling Justin Bieber.

But apparently that actually happened.

As detailed by a Twitter account called JustinBieberCrew.com, the fun-loving Embiid began this past weekend by not only kicking it at a club with an international pop star, but proceeding to dominate the much smaller multimillionaire in an impromptu battle of strength.

Check out the video below. I mean, this is why the Internet exists, right? (Embiid is the one who doesn’t look like a Canadian teenager.)

None by JustinBieberCrew.com

All jokes aside, Embiid, still just 22, has been cleared for actual basketball activities with the Philadelphia 76ers, and just a few days ago showed up on social media doing much more impressive things than defeating a tiny singer/dancer/whatever in arm-wrestling.

Embiid’s offseason hoops trainer, Drew Hanlen, posted an Instagram video of a recent Embiid workout. The Cameroon native not only looks to be in great physical shape, but back to his old ways of incorporating fancy footwork into monster dunks.

On and off the court, Embiid appears to be well on his way to becoming the NBA’s most entertaining big man.

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Cole Aldrich thrilled to play for hometown T’wolves, with other Jayhawks

FILE — Los Angeles Clippers center Cole Aldrich (45) on the bench during the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Indiana Pacers in Indianapolis, Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2016. The former Kansas big man was introduced Thursday as a new member of his hometown Minnesota Timberwolves. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

FILE — Los Angeles Clippers center Cole Aldrich (45) on the bench during the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Indiana Pacers in Indianapolis, Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2016. The former Kansas big man was introduced Thursday as a new member of his hometown Minnesota Timberwolves. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

By all accounts, Cole Aldrich, the newest member of the Minnesota Timberwolves, has no say in the NBA franchise’s uniform design. Still, the former Kansas center couldn’t help offering up a slight adjustment to the team’s look during his introductory press conference Thursday.

Seeing as how Aldrich is one of three Jayhawks on the roster, along with rising star Andrew Wiggins and recently signed veteran Brandon Rush, the 6-foot-11 big man suggested the Wolves add a Kansas patch to their jerseys, according to the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

Admittedly, the Burnsville, Minn., native feels pretty good about life in general these days, what with that freshly signed three-year $22 million contract to play for his hometown organization. As Aldrich, a six-year NBA veteran who already has played for Oklahoma City, Houston, Sacramento, New York and the Los Angeles Clippers pointed out, the free-agent deals he reached over the past few years were neither longterm nor as lucrative as his new contract with Minnesota.

“It’s great to have security, in a sense, where I have a three-year deal,” Aldrich said in the Star Tribune’s report. “For me, I’ve gone through pretty much my career on one-year deals (since a guaranteed contract as a first-round pick).”

A backup post player since leaving KU to become the 11th overall pick in the 2010 draft, Aldrich never averaged more than 3.3 points a game until the 2014-15 season, with the Knicks, when he put up 5.5 points in just 16.0 minutes. He matched that 5.5 average with the Clippers this past year, despite playing fewer minutes (13.3 a game).

“I finished six years in [the NBA] and sometimes I wonder how the hell I even made it this long,” Aldrich said. “Because the average career is three and a half. It’s just a blessing.”

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A self-proclaimed lifelong T’wolves fan, Aldrich also considers himself lucky to be back home. He recalled attending several games during the 2004 playoffs, when Kevin Garnett led the franchise to its first Western Conference Finals berth. Minnesota hasn’t qualified for the playoffs since, but Aldrich said his affinity for the organization never wavered.

“Whether it was in another city, playing for New York or Oklahoma City or wherever, I always tried to keep tabs. You root for your city,” Aldrich told the Star Tribune. “For me to be home, I’m going to go out there and play hard. I’m not going to guarantee a championship or anything like LeBron [James], but I’m going to try to do all I can to help us win games.”

Minnesota’s addition this offseason of Tom Thibodeau, new head coach and president of basketball operations, is expected to give the middling franchise a significant boost as all-stars-in-the-making Wiggins and Karl-Anthony Towns continue to expand their games. Aldrich, a projected backup center with the T’wolves, said he’s eager to work for the famously tough-minded coach.

“The grit and the grind basketball,” Aldrich responded, when asked why he will fit in well with his hometown team. “I love to get my nose dirty. As you can tell, I’ve got a few scars, and I’ve got a missing tooth.”

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Undeterred Tarik Black ready to earn larger role with Lakers

Los Angeles Lakers center Tarik Black, right, tries to dunk and misses as Washington Wizards guard Garrett Temple defends during the second half of an NBA basketball game, Sunday, March 27, 2016, in Los Angeles. The Wizards won 101-88. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

Los Angeles Lakers center Tarik Black, right, tries to dunk and misses as Washington Wizards guard Garrett Temple defends during the second half of an NBA basketball game, Sunday, March 27, 2016, in Los Angeles. The Wizards won 101-88. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

Many NBA players would look back at a six-month-long season that included merely 104 shot attempts with contempt. Tarik Black isn’t wired that way, though.

During the young center’s second season with the Los Angeles Lakers, he only played in 39 games, logging just 12.7 minutes off the bench in those sparse appearances. But the former Kansas big man, who this summer agreed to a two-year deal to stay with L.A., thinks his trials should only help him.

“You can look at the negatives. You can look at the positives. I choose to look at the positives from every situation,” Black told the Los Angeles Daily News. “The positives of that was it built my character.”

Under former Lakers coach Byron Scott, Black saw his playing time with L.A. drop by about 9.0 minutes a game from the 21.7 he averaged as a rookie. Of course, his productivity took a hit, too. Black’s scoring with the Lakers went from 7.2 points a game in 2014-15 to 3.4 this past season, while his rebounding numbers dipped from 6.3 an outing to 4.0.

Still, Black prefers to plow ahead in his career with a minutes-half-full approach.

“It taught me so much and prepared me to be the player I’m going to be moving forward,” Black said. “I definitely learned patience and perseverance. It’s tough mentally to still work hard in all situations. Throughout the season, I continued to work and always stayed competitive when I got on the floor.”

What else would you expect from a guy who drove from L.A. to Las Vegas earlier this week just to support his young Lakers teammates at the NBA’s Summer League.

Black’s character and work ethic figure to serve him well as the Lakers try to change course, under new coach Luke Walton. When Black, a 6-foot-9 big, reached a deal to stay with the Lakers, an increased role next season seemed implied. At the very least, the 24-year-old backup has a pretty good idea of what he’s getting into with the new regime.

As Black told the Daily News, he already had a good relationship with Walton, from their days together with the Memphis Tigers. Walton served as an assistant one season during Black’s time there, before the sturdy post player transferred to KU. In fact, Black said he has kept in touch with Walton since.

That relationship had to help Black feel great about his chances moving forward. And it had to make it easier to have an honest conversation with his new head coach. The Daily News reported Black spoke candidly with Walton about his role for the upcoming season.

“‘I don’t ask to be given anything. I just ask for a fair shot,’” Black related. “‘If I earn something, give it to me.’”

Walton’s response?

“‘I respect that, appreciate that and will honor that,’” Black shared.

Of course, none of that means you’ll suddenly see Black playing 30 minutes a game for the rebuilding Lakers, who just went 17-65. There will be competition for frontcourt minutes, with newly acquired projected starting center Timofey Mosgov, as well as young forwards Julius Randle and Larry Nance Jr.

Not that any obstacles would faze Black.

“I see a world of potential for myself,” he said. “I can’t wait to get back in the gym and get back to work. It’s going to be a whole lot of fun.”

None by Boom Boom

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Paul Pierce gives coaching a shot in video feature

Los Angeles Clippers forward Paul Pierce looks for an open shot against the Orlando Magic during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Friday, Feb. 5, 2016, in Orlando, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux)

Los Angeles Clippers forward Paul Pierce looks for an open shot against the Orlando Magic during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Friday, Feb. 5, 2016, in Orlando, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux)

Paul Pierce, in his 18 NBA seasons following three years at Kansas, has seen it all in the game of basketball. The 38-year-old forward recently imparted some of his hoops wisdom with a young prep player for a feature on The Players’ Tribune.

Pierce, a contributing editor for the site, met with a high school guard named Oscar Lopez, who plays for a team in Pierce’s “The Truth” AAU program. The two of them broke down video and ran through some drills for a segment called “Scouting Myself.”

Before meeting Lopez for the recurring piece, which in the past has featured NFL players Greg Olsen and Clay Matthews, Pierce explained the origins of his interest in AAU basketball and how his own experiences led to him setting up a program.

“In the AAU circuit, you get to play against all type of players. You know, you’re playing against the best of the best,” Pierce said. “There’s some guys on my AAU team that I still talk to today, because we were able to develop that family atmosphere, and that’s what I want to have in my program.”

In particular, the Los Angeles Clippers forward said he wants to give kids a sense of direction.

“I just want to be somebody who they can come to who has no other agenda for them,” Pierce explained.

After surprising the youngster with a visit, Pierce turned into a coach of sorts, watched some game footage with Lopez and gave him some constructive criticism, while also praising him for his pump fake and balance on a move that led to an open jumper.

The two then went out to the court to work on some drills that Pierce told Lopez would help him in the long run. Among other tips, the veteran recommended the prep take jump shots with a band around his lower legs, forcing him to work on his balance.

The session closed with Pierce providing a pep talk, advising Lopez to focus off the court, as well, with an emphasis on the importance of staying on top of school work and “doing the right things.”

Pierce is reportedly leaning toward returning for a 19th season in the NBA, and has two years remaining on his contract with the Clippers.

None by Ben Bolch

— Watch The Players’ Tribune’s entire “Scouting Myself” video with Pierce below:

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Andrew Wiggins: Young T’wolves will be ‘a nightmare to play’

Minnesota Timberwolves guard Andrew Wiggins (22) goes up for a shot against Los Angeles Clippers forward Jeff Green (8) during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Minneapolis, Wednesday, March 30, 2016. (AP Photo/Ann Heisenfelt)

Minnesota Timberwolves guard Andrew Wiggins (22) goes up for a shot against Los Angeles Clippers forward Jeff Green (8) during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Minneapolis, Wednesday, March 30, 2016. (AP Photo/Ann Heisenfelt)

A regular at the draft lottery for more than a decade, Minnesota might finally be on the brink of NBA relevance again. Just ask one of the franchise’s young faces, 21-year-old forward Andrew Wiggins.

Since the dynamic wing left Kansas early and became the No. 1 pick in the 2014 draft, Wiggins trudged through a 16-66 campaign before experiencing a 29-53 season. But he doesn’t expect Year No. 3 to be so unbearable.

In an interview with NBA TV while attending the Las Vegas Summer League, Wiggins detailed how the team’s identity is in the midst of an overhaul.

“We are young, we’re gonna be playing hard, we’re going up and down, we’re gonna be all over the place on defense,” Wiggins said. “I feel like we’re gonna be a nightmare to play.”

Many around the NBA expect the Timberwolves to be one of the breakout teams of the 2016-17 season. That optimism for a team that hasn’t reached the playoffs since 2004 began to swell when Minnesota brought on former Chicago head coach Tom Thibodeau as its new president and coach. With the fiery, defensive-minded Thibodeau pushing his young stars to new heights, the thinking goes, Wiggins and reigning Rookie of the Year Karl-Anthony Towns are poised to make a significant leap, and bring the rest of the team with them.

Wiggins isn’t making any bold proclamations or guaranteeing a playoff berth for the T’wolves in 2017. His first two years in the league have taught him just how difficult it is to compete night after night. Plus, he learned not to weigh himself down with the disappointment of all those losses.

“We’ve just got to trust in the process. Nothing was built, nothing was set in one day. It’s a process,” Wiggins told NBA TV. “And every day, with some new additions and players coming back, we’re gonna be even better this year. New coaching staff, we’re probably gonna have a different kind of style of play. It should be a good year for us.”

None by NBA.com

Since Thibodeau took over as the new boss this offseason, Wiggins said the team has shown interest in everything the players do, whether that’s with the organization or on their own time. He took that level of involvement as a sign the new regime wants its players constantly evolving during the offseason.

As for Wiggins’ personal growth as a player, he’s honing in on his defense.

“… Especially with a new coach coming in, Thibs, he’s gonna really push defense and playing hard and all of that,” Wiggins said. “We’re all looking forward to it, especially with the new addition, Kris Dunn (Minnesota’s No. 5 overall pick in the draft). He’s a great player, as you can see the last couple of games (in Las Vegas) he’s played. And defensively he’s great, too, so he’s gonna help us with a big push.”

In Minnesota next season, Wiggins will have a couple of new teammates who happen to be former KU players, too, in Cole Aldrich and Brandon Rush, both of whom signed with the T’wovles in free agency. Before too long, Wiggins might be asked to keep all of the Wolves, including his elder Jayhawks, in line. Those are the sorts of responsibilities that come with being one of the faces of the franchise. And Wiggins said he isn’t quite as soft-spoken as he used to be.

“It comes with growth, with experience. I’m going on my third year now, so I have a lot more responsibility than I did before,” said Wiggins, who averaged 20.7 points and 3.6 rebounds in his second season. “I’m becoming more vocal, becoming more of a leader.”

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Defensive response: Kelly Oubre Jr. adapting in second summer league trip

Washington Wizards' Kelly Oubre Jr., left, shoots around Atlanta Hawks' Edy Tavares during the first half of an NBA summer league basketball game, Sunday, July 10, 2016, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)

Washington Wizards' Kelly Oubre Jr., left, shoots around Atlanta Hawks' Edy Tavares during the first half of an NBA summer league basketball game, Sunday, July 10, 2016, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)

Kelly Oubre Jr. didn’t have the most exciting or memorable rookie season. But now that the NBA Summer League has arrived, the former Kansas wing can try to put that behind him and establish a new tone for Year No. 2.

Washington’s 6-foot-7 small forward went for 20 points, 8 rebounds and 4 steals in his Las Vegas debut Saturday, against Utah. The following day, Oubre posted 21 points, 2 assists and 2 steals versus Atlanta.

Shortly after Oubre’s first exhibition, he told CSN Mid-Atlantic why everything felt a lot easier for him this year, in his second trip to the Vegas summer league.

“Now I know what my defined role is, or can be, on this basketball team,” Oubre said. “I’m just trying to do that and perfect that. I’m just out here playing as hard as I can, trying to get wins. That’s the best I can do.”

Still just 20 years old, Oubre (3.7 points in 10.7 minutes during his first full season) appears to be a long way from molding himself into a valuable NBA shooter. So far this summer, he has attempted 15 3-pointers for the Wizards and connected on only 3 (20%). While appearing in 63 regular-season games as a rookie, Oubre made 25 of 79 long-range tries (31.6%).

But there are other ways to ensure yourself regular minutes, and, as Oubre told The Washington Post recently, this offseason he is treating personal defensive improvement as a necessity.

“I’m an energetic player,” Oubre said. “I come in and I try to first and foremost start on the defensive end because that’s what God blessed me with, length and athletic ability, so I feel that’s kind of my calling card, coming out and trying to get stops.”

Oubre showed off his 7-foot-2 wingspan in his first summer action, playing harassing defense that led to deflections and his 4 steals against the Jazz.

“Defense is the key to winning championships, to our offense, to everything,” Oubre told CSN Mid-Atlantic after that showing. “So if I can bring that, and bring that heart and bring that dog onto the court, then we’re gonna be successful.”

Oubre (as pointed out by The Post) is the only player on Washington’s July squad who has a roster spot for the 2016-17 season. Unlike some other former KU players participating in Las Vegas, such as undrafted rookies Perry Ellis (Dallas) and Brannen Greene (Memphis), Oubre is playing as an established commodity for his team. The 15th overall pick in the 2015 draft, the Wizards want him to squeeze as much development as humanly possible out of these summer outings.

Washington’s summer coach, Sidney Lowe, told CSN Mid-Atlantic after Oubre’s strong start in the opener he likes the way the second-year wing is approaching the game.

“He made a couple of big shots for us, but I thought his defense was outstanding,” Lowe said. “That's what he can do. He's long, he's athletic, he was able to get in the passing lanes and it generated some fast breaks for us."

Oubre and the Wizards play again Tuesday afternoon against Brooklyn.

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Veteran Drew Gooden waived by Washington

Washington Wizards forward Drew Gooden (90) reacts after a play in the first half of Game 4 of the Eastern Conference semifinal NBA basketball playoff series against the Toronto Raptors, Sunday, April 26, 2015, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Washington Wizards forward Drew Gooden (90) reacts after a play in the first half of Game 4 of the Eastern Conference semifinal NBA basketball playoff series against the Toronto Raptors, Sunday, April 26, 2015, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

There could be one less ’Hawk in the NBA for Kansas basketball fans to follow next season.

Washington waived veteran power forward Drew Gooden, a fan favorite in D.C., according to CSN Mid-Atlantic’s report on the move.

One of the league’s charismatic journeymen, Gooden has played for 10 different teams since leaving Kansas and becoming the fourth pick in the 2002 draft.

The Wizards, who signed Gooden late into the 2013-14 season, helped revitalize his career after he spent most of that season out of the NBA.

Now 34 years old (Gooden will turn 35 before next season begins), he only played in 30 games this past season with Washington. The backup big man was inactive for eight games during his 14th season — the other 44 he suited up but never checked in.

Gooden averaged just 10.2 minutes a game when he did play, contributing 2.7 points, 2.8 rebounds and a career-low mark of 32% shooting from the floor — impacted negatively by his 7-for-41 (17.1%) season from 3-point range.

CSN MId-Atlantic reported the Wizards waived Gooden to create salary cap space for the free agents they attained this summer. The franchise couldn’t afford to pay a seldom-used sub $3.6 million next season.

While what kind of market exists for Gooden remains to be seen, he told CSN Mid-Atlantic after the season ended he had no plans to retire.

“I’m not going anywhere,” Gooden said in April.

Now the question is: Will another team be interested in picking him up for what would be Gooden’s 15th season, and potentially 11th franchise.

According to ESPN's Marc J. Spears, Gooden had received inquiries from New York, Toronto, the Los Angeles Lakers and the L.A. Clippers within hours of being waived.

None by Marc J. Spears

The Wizards still have two other Jayhawks on their roster: outspoken power forward Markieff Morris, and second-year wing Kelly Oubre Jr.

After having more former KU players on its roster than any other team last season, Washington will relinquish that very unofficial title to Minnesota. The Timberwolves agreed to deals with Cole Aldrich and Brandon Rush in free agency, and, of course, they have third-year rising star Andrew Wiggins — the No. 1 overall pick in the 2014 draft who went on to win rookie of the year.

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Markieff Morris speaks out against Kevin Durant joining Golden State

Washington Wizards' Markieff Morris (5) drives against Golden State Warriors' Andrew Bogut during the first half of an NBA basketball game Tuesday, March 29, 2016, in Oakland, Calif. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

Washington Wizards' Markieff Morris (5) drives against Golden State Warriors' Andrew Bogut during the first half of an NBA basketball game Tuesday, March 29, 2016, in Oakland, Calif. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

Though he plays in the Eastern Conference for a team that didn’t make the playoffs last season, Washington forward Markieff Morris didn’t mind sharing his thoughts on back-to-back Western Conference champion Golden State adding superstar Kevin Durant in free agency this summer.

When reporters prodded the former Kansas star on the NBA’s biggest news of the offseason, Morris didn’t hold back his criticism of Durant, sharing the opinion with some fans that the former MVP didn’t need to join forces with reigning back-to-back MVP Steph Curry and the Warriors, who just won a record 73 games in the regular season.

“I don’t think it’s right,” Morris began, in a video interview captured by Kyle Weidie of truthaboutit.net, who covers the Wizards. “But it is what it is.”

As reporters tried to get more out of Morris on the move that caught the entire NBA’s attention, he obliged, following up with his judgment of the situation.

“You don’t do that, man,” Morris said of Durant, Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green forming a super-team that appears destined to win the 2017 NBA title, or at the very least earn a rematch with LeBron James' Cavaliers.

Trying to put himself in KD’s Nikes, Morris explained he didn’t understand why Durant, who just lost to Golden State in the West finals with Oklahoma City, would then join forces with the Warriors.

Morris claimed there would have been a “fire inside” him to come back and beat Golden State next season.

“But a lot of guys are different,” Morris added. “ I just didn’t expect that from Durant. I know him a little bit, and I didn’t expect that.”

Watch Morris’ comments in their entirety below.

None by Kyle Weidie

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