Miami Heat News: Andre Dawkins Recalled from D-League After 42-Point Binge

It appears the Miami Heat will be bringing back a familiar face.
Andre Dawkins was recalled from the Sioux Falls Skyforce early Sunday following a 42-point performance on Saturday night versus the Texas Legends. During his scoring binge, Dawkins shot 12-of-15 on 3-pointers while going 14-of-18 overall from the field.
Dawkins’ stay at Sioux Falls lasted a total of eight games, where he averaged 20.9 points and shot .453 from beyond the arc. Before being sent to the D-League, the undrafted rookie had totaled three points and a rebound in three appearances with the Heat this season.

Heat recall guard Andre Dawkins after 42-point D-League scoring binge Saturday night. http://t.co/atVfTktwA9
— Ira Winderman (@IraHeatBeat) December 21, 2014

In three appearances during the preseason, the University of Duke product averaged 10.3 points per game, including a 16-point performance versus the San Antonio Spurs, which lifted the Heat to a 111-108 victory.
Coach Erik Spoelstra stressed that Daw…

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Miami Heat News: Heat to Seek $2.65M Salary Cap Exception Due to McRoberts Injury

The Miami Heat will seek a $2.65 million salary cap exception due to Josh McRoberts being out for possibly the rest of the season.
Ira Winderman of The Sun Sentinel announced early Tuesday that the Heat will be applying to the NBA for a disabled-player exception to replace the veteran power forward. Such an appeal will be largely dictated by whether an independent NBA physician declares McRoberts’ knee injury to be season-ending.
If it is ruled that McRoberts’ injury is season-ending, the Heat would be granted a $2.65 million exception that can be used either through trade or by signing a free agent. For such player exceptions, Miami would be limited to acquiring a player through trade who is in the final year of their contracts, or by signing a free agent to a one-year deal.
The Heat would have to use the player exception by March 10 for it to be valid.
The 6’10″ forward has struggled with injuries since training camp in October. The 27-year-old had been recovering from a toe injur…

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Miami Heat News: Shabazz Napier and Hassan Whiteside Recalled From D-League

It appears Shabazz Napier and Hassan Whiteside’s stay with the Sioux Falls Skyforce was a short one after all.
The Miami Heat announced early Monday that they have recalled both Napier and Whiteside from their D-League affiliate. Both players were sent to Sioux Falls on December 13, just a day before the Heat were set to play the Chicago Bulls on Sunday night. Napier and Whiteside made one appearance for the Skyforce, leading the team to a 124-105 victory over the Iowa Energy on Saturday.

OFFICIAL: The @MiamiHEAT have recalled both Shabazz Napier & Hassan Whiteside from the @SFSkyforce (@nbadleague) – http://t.co/zTU2suztTd
— Miami HEAT (@MiamiHEAT) December 15, 2014

Napier scored 22 points, notched three assists, two rebounds and a steal in the victory. Whiteside recorded 21 points, 12 rebounds and blocked four shots in his lone appearance for the D-League affiliate.
Both players will be available for Tuesday night’s game in Brooklyn when the Heat take on the Nets. In …

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Miami Heat News: Shabazz Napier and Hassan Whiteside Assigned to D-League Affiliate

Shabazz Napier and Hassan Whiteside will be receiving more playing time. It just won’t be with the Miami Heat in the near future.
The Heat announced early Saturday that Napier and Whiteside have been assigned to the Sioux Falls Skyforce, a D-League affiliate of the organization.
With Chris Andersen set to return in the next few days, the Heat are already loaded on the front line as is, with Chris Bosh, Shawne Williams, Udonis Haslem, Justin Hamilton, Danny Granger and Josh McRoberts. Whiteside had filled in and played a few minutes in three appearances due to the absences of Andersen and McRoberts. The center totaled six points, four rebounds and one block in nine minutes of action since being signed to the active roster on November 24.

Move with Whiteside indicates Chris Andersen likely on the verge of returning from his sprained ankle.
— Ira Winderman (@IraHeatBeat) December 13, 2014

Napier has been a key part of Miami’s rotation, averaging 5.7 points, 2.2 rebounds and two assis…

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Knicks News: Close Losses Can’t Be Reason to Give Up on Season

While fans are already prepared to give up on the season and start watching hockey, the New York Knicks still should have hope going forward.

The outlook certainly doesn’t look great for a team that has turned a 2-1 start into a 4-15 record through 19 games. It’s not surprising fans are already looking toward the 2015 draft and seeing who can be obtained if the squad just tanks the rest of the year.

However, it is important to remember the current team is not as bad as the record indicates and there is still hope for this season.

Chris Herring of the Wall Street Journal noted that a league-high 11 of the team’s first 18 games were within five points with five minutes remaining in the game, only for the Knicks to go 2-9 in those situations.

He notes the defense is the problem, as the Knicks “have surrendered 122.4 points per 100 plays in clutch scenarios, third-worst in the NBA. And opponents have shot 47 percent against the Knicks in those scenarios, which ranks fifth-worst.”

Add in another five-point loss to the Brooklyn Nets on Tuesday, and these close losses continue to be a recurring problem.

After the game, Iman Shumpert explained to Ian Begley of ESPNNewYork.com that these types of defeats could lead to a bad mindset:

I don’t want to get in that dark place. I’ve been in that dark space and I couldn’t get out of it, so I don’t want to get in that. …

We’ve lost so many games that guys are just thinking down the stretch or just hesitant to do certain things. Once you lose a few games like that, sometimes you get in your mind that you’re playing not to lose instead of just playing to win.

A proper mentality is everything in sports, and it seems like the Knicks are on the brink of collapse.

This wouldn’t necessarily be the worst thing in the minds of fans, who are hoping they are at least bad enough to earn a great draft pick. Adam Zagoria of SNY.tv discussed the merits of losing as many games as possible down the stretch to try to bring in someone like Jahlil Okafor or Emmanuel Mudiay.

Meanwhile, Frank Isola of the New York Daily News mocked the mindset of a team always looking toward next season:

The problem is a team like this in a major market is never truly going to bottom out. According to Zach Lowe of Grantland, “the Knicks approached a record $145 million in net gate receipts last season, nearly $3.5 million per game.”

This means while other teams will be fine benching their stars and letting no-name players do whatever they want on the court, New York will want to at least remain competitive to keep fans watching.

With talented players like Carmelo Anthony and Amar’e Stoudemire, there will at least be some wins here and there.

So if you can’t lose all of your games, what can you do? How about win?

The Knicks have played poorly, but they are far from being one of the worst teams in the league. As previously mentioned, almost all of their games have been competitive. This is a far cry from the Philadelphia 76ers, who lose just about every night by at least double digits.

According to Begley, Anthony recently explained his beliefs that his team should be winning more of these games:

From a talent perspective, he is 100 percent correct. The Knicks might not be one of the best teams in the NBA, but Anthony should be able to carry teams to wins on his own. Jose Calderon is an above-average point guard and Shumpert is a quality role player who would help just about any team win.

There is no doubt the roster as currently constructed has the ability to make the playoffs in the Eastern Conference.

The key is a belief in winning, which apparently is fading quickly for this veteran club. This comes down to head coach Derek Fisher finding a way to inspire his troops and get the most out of his players when it counts. 

As Shumpert implied, the season appears to be on the brink of falling apart. However, the players can use the close losses as a positive instead of a negative, knowing that they are only a few plays and some better bounces away from having a much better record.

Fisher is new at coaching and a lot of the criticism that has been directed at him has concerned his tactics However, the most important task for him at this stage is keeping his team mentally prepared for the rest of the year.

If he can do that, the Knicks might have a better finish than most people anticipate.

 

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Lakers News: Latest Buzz Surrounding Earl Clark, Wayne Ellington and More

 
The Los Angeles Lakers are a woeful 4-13 on the season and haven’t generated much in the way of good news thus far.

Between Kobe Bryant holding the offense hostage—with occasional breaks to set cool records—and a defense that is allowing a league-worst 113.7 points per 100 possessions, via ESPN.com’s Hollinger rankings, there has been very little in the way of hope for Lakers fans this season.

However, there is still plenty of work to be done for the team to manage the current situation, as distasteful as it may be.

The latest batch of Lakers news involves some updates on contract situations—always of concern to a team constantly taking stock of its cap room—and a player who might be able to soothe the pain of a disastrous start to the 2014-15 season.

 

Lakers Apply for Disabled Player Exception, Reportedly In Contact With Earl Clark

The Lakes are in desperate need of bodies and are taking the necessary steps to add players. According to the Los Angeles Daily News‘ Mark Medina, the team has applied for a disabled player exception and a hardship exception:

Xavier Henry will be out for the remainder of the season with an Achilles tendon injury. He joins the likes of Julius Randle and Steve Nash on the list of players who won’t be suiting up for this campaign. Add Ryan Kelly and his hamstring injury to the mix, and it’s easy to see why the Lakers could use a hardship exception to bring in someone ambulatory.

In fact, the Lakers might already have a player lined up should the league grant them the requisite exceptions. Forward Earl Clark—who spent the 2012-13 season in with the Lakes and posted career highs in points and rebounds per game—has reportedly been in contact with the team, per a report from Medina:

The Lakers have had ‘talks’ to sign forward Earl Clark this week, according to a league source familiar with the discussions. The deal is not finalized, but it’s believed to be a one-year deal worth $1 million. The Lakers could either wait until the NBA approves hardship exception to finish that deal. Or the Lakers could waive Henry, who is owed a guaranteed $1.1 million.

The Lakers would be better off not waiving Henry, as he is a young player worth keeping in the fold while monitoring his recovery from a potentially devastating injury. He’s still just 23 years old and averaged 10.0 points and 2.7 rebounds per game in the 2013-14 season. Henry brings some potential and athleticism at a position where the Lakers desperately need both.

Clark could soak up the minutes previously allotted to Kelly. He is capable of playing as a stretch power forward—he owns a career 33.1 shooting percentage from beyond the arc, respectable for a 6’10″ player—but his presence might also create a logjam in the post once Kelly returns to the lineup.

The Lakers already have the likes of Carlos Boozer, Ed Davis and (occasionally) Jordan Hill playing in that spot. Then again, beggars can’t be choosers, and Clark is definitely too good for the NBA D-League, per the Rio Grande Valley Vipers’ official Twitter account:

It also seems general manager Mitch Kupchak could wait to make a move and try to capitalize on trade-deadline activity.

“We would have to find a better player than who is on our roster now since you have to cut somebody,” said Kupchak, via Medina. “I’m not sure those players exist as free agents. When we get something closer to the trade deadline, there might be something there.”

Clark also does nothing for the Lakers’ long-term prospects. Signing him might provide a temporary boost to fans who remember the high-energy player from a couple of years ago, but his arrival would be akin to fixing up a broken window on a condemned property.

 

Update on Wayne Ellington, Ronnie Price Contracts

Wayne Ellington and Ronnie Price were two under-the-radar additions to the Lakers roster this summer. While their contracts suggested they might not be in for the long haul, extenuating circumstances have guaranteed Ellington—and soon enough, Price—bigger paydays and welcome job security.

According to the Los Angeles Times‘ Eric Pincus, Ellington is now locked in for 55 percent of his potential total salary:

On Monday, his contract became guaranteed for $581,692, locking in almost 55% of his total salary.

The sixth-year, 27-year-old guard is averaging 7.5 points a game through 10 appearances, shooting 50.0% from the field and 36.7% from three-point range.

Ellington recently returned from a leave of absence, after the tragic shooting death of his father, Wayne Ellington Sr.

Pincus also goes on to report that Ellington’s full contract locks in if he’s on the team as of Jan. 10, while Price will nearly double his earnings if he’s still on the roster on Dec. 15.

Considering the Lakers’ injury woes, both of those contract scenarios are highly likely to come to fruition.

Ellington might not be filling up the stat sheet every night, but he brings a solid veteran presence to the team and can be deadly when in his element, per Lakers.com’s Mike Trudell:

Price has become a necessary rotation player with Nash out for the season and the team opting to bring rookie Jordan Clarkson along slowly at point guard. He’s a strong dribbler who brings plenty of energy coming off the bench. He’s averaging 3.6 points, 3.8 assists and 1.3 steals in 20.3 minutes per game this season.

At 31 years old, Price isn’t likely to stay on beyond this season, nor is the 27-year-old Ellington. They are vital components to the Lakers this season, but neither looks quite good enough to be considered a building block for the future.

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Cavs News: Cavaliers Sign A.J. Price, Release Will Cherry

The Cleveland Cavaliers played some more musical chairs at the guard slot on Sunday when they placed Will Cherry on waivers and claimed A.J. Price off waivers from the Indiana Pacers. The Price acquisition was tweeted by Yahoo Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski, while the Cleveland Plain Dealer’s Chris Haynes also noted the release of Cherry via Twitter.
Cleveland has claimed AJ Price off waivers, league source tells Yahoo.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) November 30, 2014
#Cavs have waived point guard Will Cherry, a league source tells @clevelanddotcom.
— Chris Haynes (@ChrisBHaynes) November 30, 2014

Back on November 1, Price had been placed on waivers by the Cavs and Cherry was signed by the team the next day. Four days after that, Price was signed by the Pacers, but was not signed to his third 10-day contract with the team on Friday, due to the return of previously injured C.J. Watson and David West.
Price, who had been averaging 10.5 point in just under 20 minutes per game for Ind…

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Cavs News: Anderson Varejao Questionable Against Indiana Pacers

After suffering a rib contusion during Wednesday night’s 113-87 rout of the Washington Wizards, Cleveland Cavaliers center Anderson Varejao is questionable to play in Saturday night’s home game against the Indiana Pacers, according to the Cleveland Plain Dealer.
There was no indication from Cavs Head Coach David Blatt for what exactly caused the injury. Varejao is averaging 10.9 points and 6.9 rebounds per game this season, and has been especially accurate with his outside shot, connecting on 61 percent of his attempts.
Varejao has also had problems staying healthy over the past few years, missing two-thirds of Cleveland’s games from 2010-13 with a variety of injuries.
If Varejao is unable to go, the likely starter will be Tristan Thompson, who has made his mark this year when it comes to offensive side rebounding. Behind him is only Brendan Haywood, who has only seen 20 minutes of action in the team’s first 14 contests, and possiblly Lou Amundson, who has only 37 minutes on the cou…

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Miami Heat News: Chris Andersen Out 2-3 Weeks

The Miami Heat’s injury list just keeps piling up. You can now add Chris Andersen to that report—again.
Ira Winderman of The Sun Sentinel reports that Andersen himself stated that he’ll be out two-to-three weeks due to a high ankle sprain he suffered versus the Charlotte Hornets last Sunday. The injury forced Andersen to miss the Heat’s loss to the Golden State Warriors on Tuesday night.
Because of said injury, the Heat had already prepared for life without ‘Birdman’ by cutting guard Shannon Brown and signing center Hassan Whiteside just a day after Andersen’s injury versus the Hornets.
The 2014-15 season has been an injury-plagued campaign for the ‘Birdman.’ After playing the first two games, Andersen has struggled to remain healthy. In a 114-96 victory over the Philadelphia 76ers on November 1st, the 36-year-old big man suffered a rib injury. The rib injury forced Andersen to miss the next five games.
In the seven appearances he made following his recovery from the injury, the vet…

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Miami Heat News: Dwyane Wade Slated to Return Sunday vs. Knicks

After a seven-game hiatus due to injury, it appears that Dwyane Wade is ready to make his return.
Ira Winderman of The Sun Sentinel reports that Wade should make his return on Sunday versus the New York Knicks after missing the last seven games due to a hamstring injury.

Dwyane Wade said his goal is to “hopefully” play Sunday in New York after missing seven games with a strained left hamstring.
— Ira Winderman (@IraHeatBeat) November 26, 2014

The Miami Heat have struggled in the absence of their star player, going just 3-4 after starting out the season 5-3 in the games Wade has played in. The 32-year-old shooting guard is averaging 19.8 points per game on 50.8 percent shooting to go along with 6.4 assists and 3.4 rebounds.
Wade injured his hamstring on a layup versus the Indiana Pacers on November 12. While the veteran guard has stated his intention to return Sunday, there is no official decision regarding when Wade will exactly return.
Winderman also reported that Dwyane had part…

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