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Suns make the expected official, waive Michael Beasley

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We’ve been telling you this was coming.

Not long after Michael Beasley’s latest arrest for marijuana possession, our own Brett Pollakoff laid out how the Suns could use the stretch provision to lessen their hit in letting Beasley go. Then as part of the recent Caron Butler trade we told you that cleared out just shy of $6 million in cap space, again lessening the hit if the Suns let Beasley go. There have been a lot of reports that owner Robert Sarver had just had enough and wanted to cut ties.

Now it is official — the Suns have waived Michael Beasley. This was a mutual decision as Beasley took a $7 million buyout ($2 million off what he was owed) to make the deal happen.

“The Suns were devoted to Michael Beasley’s success in Phoenix,” Suns President of Basketball Operations Lon Babby said in a statement released by the team. “However, it is essential that we demand the highest standards of personal and professional conduct as we develop a championship culture. Today’s action reflects our commitment to those standards. The timing and nature of this, and all of our transactions, are based on the judgment of our Basketball leadership as to how best to achieve our singular goal of rebuilding an elite team.”

“We have high standards for all of our players,” said Suns General Manager Ryan McDonough in the same statement. “We expect them to represent the team and the community in a positive manner both on and off the court.”

Marc Stein at ESPN had reported minutes before this was coming.

The Phoenix Suns are planning to release Beasley in the wake of his recent arrest on suspicion of marijuana possession, sources told ESPN.com, and are likely to officially make the move this week….

Beasley is now on waivers. There is zero chance a team will pick him up and take on his full salary for next season.

After he clears waivers he becomes a free agent. The question the is if team take a chance on him?

While in the past he has shown he could put the ball in the basket — he scored 19.2 points a game for the Timberwolves two seasons ago, but he was a volume shooting needing 17.1 attempts a game to get there — however in his last two seasons his game has regressed. He has had what success he did have running a lot of isolation (and even then he takes tough shots) but when asked to play within a team system he struggled. And his defense can best be described as indifferent.

You can say there is talent hidden away in him, but can anybody really get it out. A desperate team might be willing to take a risk, but a lot of GMs are going to be hesitant for chemistry reasons.

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.