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Knicks had already benched scout who allegedly conducted improper workouts

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One month before a report surfaced saying a Knicks scout had been conducting improper pre-draft workouts, the team had already cut back his role.

And, as always with the Knicks, it comes back to Isiah Thomas, according to Frank Isola of the New York Daily News.

However, a Knicks source contends that Walsh decided to limit (Rodney) Heard’s role because the organization received information that Heard had advised at least one top high school prospect to consider enrolling at FIU, which is coached by Heard’s former boss, Isiah Thomas.

According to a Yahoo report, Heard has conducted improper pre-draft workouts for years and those included Wilson Chandler, who the Knicks drafted seemingly out of the blue. The league is investigating.

Chandler has denied taking part in these workouts and did so again yesterday.

So here we are, entering a third season with Walsh as the head man in the Knicks organization, yet still issues from the Thomas era haunt the team. And force discussions and league investigations. And loom like a cloud over the franchise because would it shock anyone if owner James Dolan once again tried to bring Thomas back into the organization (as he tried to do this summer as a consultant until it was pointed out that coaching a college team and being on an NBA payroll was a conflict).

One interesting note from the story is that Heard was one of the voices in the Knicks organization urging them to draft Brandon Jennings in 2009. The Knicks instead went with the player that coach Mike D’Antoni wanted, Jordan Hill. He is no longer with the team, and they really could have used Jennings.

Report: Khris Middleton could return to Bucks before All-Star break

CHARLOTTE, NC - JANUARY 16:  Khris Middleton #22 of the Milwaukee Bucks reacts during their game against the Charlotte Hornets at Time Warner Cable Arena on January 16, 2016 in Charlotte, North Carolina. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
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The Bucks projected Khris Middleton to miss about 70 games when he tore his hamstring before the season. That extended absence often leads players just to shut down for the year, but Middleton vowed to return in time for the playoffs.

He might get back far sooner than that.

Marc Stein of ESPN:

Sources told ESPN.com the Bucks think Middleton, who suffered a hamstring tear just days before the season began, “has a chance” to return to the lineup during a three-game homestand next month before the All-Star ‎break.

Whether Middleton ultimately makes his season debut before or after the All-Star Game, he is expected to be kept on a minutes restriction as he eases way his back from the injury, sources said.

The Bucks have started Tony Snell, who has held his own as an outside shooter. But Middleton will upgrade Milwaukee on Snell’s biggest strength and provide massive defensive improvement. After a strong start, the Bucks have really struggled lately on that end.

Giannis Antetokounmpo has led Milwaukee to a 20-21 record, though the team is better than its won-loss mark indicates. The Bucks will be even better with Middleton, who will rival Jabari Parker as their second-best player and fit seamlessly.

Isaiah Thomas nutmegs Knicks center Marshall Plumlee (video)

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Isaiah Thomas usually saves his best play for the fourth quarter, but the Celtics guard showed out early with this pass between Marshall Plumlee‘s legs to get Kelly Olynyk a layup.

Thomas uncharacteristically just didn’t have enough late. Though he scored 39 points, he shot just 2-for-9 in the final period, as the Knicks pulled away for a 117-106 win.

Kevin Durant misses dunk so hard, ball flies past halfcourt (video)

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Kevin Durant played great in the Warriors’ win over the Thunder last night, but – perhaps fueled by excess emotion – he missed this incredibly emphatic dunk attempt.

Later, Russell Westbrook showed his former teammate how to do it (sparking their apparent conversation):

James Harden outduels Giannis Antetokounmpo as they produce fantastic highlight video

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James Harden and Giannis Antetokounmpo met in a battle of two of the NBA’s best point guards. (Still weird to say.) The final lines:

  • Harden: 38 points, 6 rebounds, 8 assists, 2 blocks
  • Antetokounmpo: 32 points, 11 rebounds, 6 assists, 3 blocks

The winner? Harden and the Rockets, who topped the Bucks, 111-92.

But the real winner? Anyone who gets to watch this highlight video. It just gets better as it goes.