Solomon Alabi

Raptors assign Solomon Alabi to the Erie BayHawks, Ed Davis may join him

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Solomon Alabi was among a notable class of second rounders in the 2010 draft, but his NBA career will be put on pause after just 18 seconds of action. The Toronto Raptors announced that they have assigned Alabi to their D-League affiliate, the Erie BayHawks, and it’s a move that certainly makes sense for all parties.

While the Raps could theoretically use a player like Alabi at center, he’s far too unpolished and inexperienced to provide much help to the current core. Sadly, even Toronto’s current group of slow-rotating, weak-rebounding, outside-in big men are more effective than a rookie center project. I like Alabi’s chances of becoming a productive NBA player eventually, but he needs extended burn and specific instruction to improve his NBA effectiveness, and that’s just what he’ll receive in Erie. As icing on the cake, Alabi will now be the only player on the BayHawks’ roster designated as a center. Head coach Jay Larranaga will benefit from Alabi’s length just as much as Alabi benefits from seeing some actual playing time, though Toronto hopes to benefit most from all of this.

Also, according to Doug Smith of the Toronto Star, Alabi may not be the only Raptor on the BayHawks’ roster. Smith reports that rookie first rounder Ed Davis will likely be sent to Erie while he works his way back from knee surgery, a strategy that more NBA teams would be wise to employ. The D-League isn’t only a great place to send fringe NBA talent or projects. It can also be an invaluable tool for rehabbing players, although currently it can only be used for those within their first thee years in the NBA. The D-League is a terrific option for younger players trying to improve their conditioning and timing after surgery or major injury, so kudos to the Raps for taking full advantage of the D’s offerings.

TNT to cover NBA games with only former players, no traditional play-by-play men

LOS ANGELES, CA - MAY 19:  Grant Hill #33 of the Phoenix Suns looks to move the ball as Derek Fisher #2 of the Los Angeles Lakers defends in the first quarter of Game Two of the Western Conference Finals during the 2010 NBA Playoffs at Staples Center on May 19, 2010 in Los Angeles, California. 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 Harry How/Getty Images)
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NEW YORK (AP) — TNT will use broadcast teams featuring only former players and no traditional play-by-play men during five NBA doubleheaders later this season.

The “Players Only” schedule runs Monday nights from Feb. 27 to March 27 and includes matchups such as Golden State-Oklahoma City on March 20 and Cleveland-San Antonio a week later.

Brent Barry will serve as the primary host of one team with Derek Fisher and Grant Hill, while Greg Anthony partners with Kevin McHale and Richard Hamilton on the other.

Lisa Leslie and Dennis Scott will serve as reporters.

Turner Sports says Thursday that Chris Webber will anchor the studio coverage with Isiah Thomas and Baron Davis, and that additional NBA players will contribute to the five-week program.

James Harden presents fan with game ball on her 100th birthday (video)

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HOUSTON (AP) — James Harden took some time out after the Houston Rockets’ win over the visiting Milwaukee Bucks to give a fan a present on a her 100th birthday.

Video shows Harden signing a ball for the woman and spending a few moments sitting next to her in her courtside seat and posing for pictures Wednesday night.

Harden told ESPN’s Doris Burke in an interview that he told the woman how “blessed” he was to be able to have a chance to meet her.

The Houston guard also put on a good show for the fan during the game, scoring 38 points in a 111-92 victory over the Bucks.

Paul George dunks on DeMarcus Cousins while getting whacked in the face (video)

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Kings center DeMarcus Couins appears set to become the first player to sign as a veteran designated player. The Pacers hope Paul George will follow.

But in the Pacers’ win over the Kings yesterday, George beat Cousins.

Not even Cousins thwacking George in the face could stop this dunk.

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.