Report: Knicks trying hard to sign Beno Udrih

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Beno Udrih was traded from the Milwaukee Bucks to the Orlando Magic last season, enjoying a mild career resurgence when he was handed the reigns late in the season while  getting some spot starts in the absence of starting point guard Jameer Nelson. The 31-year-old Slovenian’s decent production while his team went 2-16 to end the season didn’t earn him much fanfare on this year’s free agent market, unsurprisingly, but the New York Knicks are apparently still interested in his services for the upcoming season.

The journeyman point guard was paid nearly $32.5 million over the past five seasons spent with the Sacramento Kings, Bucks and Magic, but ESPN’s Marc Stein reports that the Knicks are trying hard to convince him to move to New York if he’s willing to take a bit of a pay-cut. Actually, a pretty large pay-cut, unfortunately for Udrih, considering the Knicks only have enough room under the salary cap to offer the nine-year NBA veteran a minimum contract. If Udrih can match the 10.2 points and 6.1 assists in 27 minutes like he did with the Magic last year, that’d end up being a pretty solid get.

Udrih’s been a consistently average point guard in the NBA since joining the San Antonio Spurs as a backup in 2004, but there’s value in consistency when it comes to backup point guards. The Knicks haven’t had a lot of luck when it comes to injuries in its backcourt over the past few seasons. Between incumbent starter Raymond Felton, Udrih and 36-year-old veteran Pablo Prigioni, though, New York’s backcourt should always be occupied with a steady hand to guide the offense.

The Knicks could also play Udrih off the ball like the Bucks did during the 2011-12 season, but his value there is only truly intriguing if he’s making and taking shots like he did with the Magic to end last season. The lefty’s shot selection has very rarely been lauded by those watching him play (his pull-up jumper in transition is even legendary in some circles) but the fact that he was able knock said shots in Orlando certainly helped his plight. In a 27-game sample, the 6-foot-3 gunner shot 39.6 percent from beyond the arc — his best percentage since his rookie year — while taking more 3-point shots than he had since his time in Sacramento.

The Knicks getting Udrih might not be a game-changer. If he’s able to stay productive on a minimum contract, though, it’ll likely be considered a nice signing when all is said and done.

Watch Lonzo Ball’s 29 point, 11 rebound, 9 assist game Friday night

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This was more of what fans expected from Lonzo Ball.

After a rough first game against the Clippers — with Patrick Beverley in his face all night — Ball found plenty of room to operate against the soft defense of the Phoenix Suns. With room to operate Ball had 29 points, 11 rebounds, and nine assists — just one assist short of a triple-double. He helped the Lakers pull away to a lead in the third then hold on for a 132-130 win over the Suns.

Ball wasn’t terribly efficient, 12-of-27 shooting, but he was 4-of-9 from three, he played with great pace, he was decisive, and was finding guys with his passes. It was a step forward, even if it was against a sad defense (Eric Bledsoe can be a good defender, but he has seemed disinterested in recent years).

Ball and the Lakers are going to be up and down this season, the goal is for there to be more ups near the end of the season.

LeBron James rejects Giannis Antetokounmpo at the rim

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Through the first couple games of the season, Giannis Antetokounmpo has put up impressive numbers — he dropped 34 points, 8 rebounds, and 8 assists on the Cavaliers Friday night.

But the Cavaliers still have LeBron James.

He had 24 points and 8 assists, leading Cleveland to the win.

LeBron also reminded the Greek Freak just how good a rim protector he is. Few people can slow Antetokounmpo on the drive, but LeBron is one of them.

Is it too early to root for a Cavs vs. Bucks playoff series?

Hawks’ DeAndre’ Bembry out with fractured wrist

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In their season opener Wednesday, Atlanta second-year man DeAndre’ Bembry came off the bench and played 17:45, scored six points and was +13 on the night. It was a good start to his career.

But now he is going to miss some time with a fractured wrist.

Bembry underwent an MRI, which revealed a fracture in his right wrist, the Hawks announced Friday. He will return to Atlanta with the team (the Hawks lost to the Hornets Friday night) and will meet with team doctors at the Emory Orthopaedics & Spine Center on Monday. His status will be updated after that.

“We just may play some other guys more, we may use some of the young guys,” Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer told the AP before Friday night’s game. “We’ll just figure it out tonight and as we move forward. I don’t think there’s anything guaranteed for anybody, it’s unfortunate for DeAndre’ and for us.”

 

Danny Ainge says Celtics will apply for Disabled Player Exception

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It’s not likely Gordon Hayward returns this season. His agent said as much, although a return in March is not out of the question. (It’s better PR wise for the Celtics to say he is out for the season, then if he returns early great, it’s better than setting a deadline he doesn’t meet.)

With that, the Celtics are going to apply for the Disabled Player Exception, which could help them land a replacement player, Danny Ainge told Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe.

President of basketball operations Danny Ainge told the Globe on Friday the club is applying for the Disabled Player Exception, which would provide the Celtics $8.4 million to pursue a player to fill Hayward’s roster spot.

“We’re in the process of doing that,’’ Ainge said. “We have a while to do that. There’s no urgency, but we will apply for that.”

There are limits to what that money can get the Celtics. The money is the same as the mid-level exception, the Celtics can go over the cap to use it, and the player can be obtained via free agency or trade. However, the player must be in the last year of his contract.

It gives the Celtics options. It also does not mean Hayward cannot return, it only means NBA-approved doctors determined he is not likely to return before a mid-June deadline.