Bucks make it official, Larry Sanders out for the rest of the season

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When Larry Sanders had to get surgery for a broken eye socket just more than a month ago it was hard to see how he would return to the Bucks’ rotation this summer — what exactly is the point of racing him back to the court for the tea with the worst record in the NBA?

Sanders made it official he would not be back this season, speaking with Charles F. Gardner of the Journal Sentinel.

Sanders, traveling with the Bucks on their current four-game western trip, confirmed he would not return this season in a locker-room interview. But he said he is progressing well following surgery to repair right orbital fractures suffered in a fluky play against Houston on Feb. 8. Sanders went up for a rebound and was elbowed by Houston guard James Harden.

Sanders came into the season having just signed a four-year, $44 million contract to be one of the rebuilding anchors in Milwaukee, and instead he was a mess. Sanders shooting percentage fell to 46.9 percent (from 50.6), he wasn’t grabbing the same percentage of rebounds and his defense was not up to the standards he had shown the year before. His minutes dropped and he was frustrated with coach Larry Drew. Then Sanders had to miss time for thumb surgery from an injury suffered in a bar fight.

Milwaukee still has Sanders, plus promising prospects John Henson and Giannis Antetokounmpo — that could be an interesting front line if a few years. This season that lineup has played just 21 minutes together, hopefully next season they can all be healthy and get some good run as a group. Then the Bucks become far more interesting.

Friday afternoon fun: Watch James Harden’s 10 best plays from last season

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James Harden had a historic season in Houston.

Since it’s Friday afternoon and your sports viewing options consist of watching guys about to be cut from NFL rosters try to impress, why not check out Harden’s best plays from last season. It’s worth a couple minutes of your time.

Mavericks sign Jeff Withey to one-year contract

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Jeff Withey‘s ex-fiancée accused him of domestic violence, but he was not charged.

That frees him to continue his basketball career, which he’ll do in Dallas.

Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports:

The Mavericks could use another center, even if they re-sign Nerlens Noel. Salah Mejri is the only other true center, though Dirk Nowitzki will now play the position.

Withey is a good rim protector. Just don’t ask him to do anything away from the basket.

Dallas annually brings excess players to training camp and has them compete for regular-season roster spots. Whether or not his salary is guaranteed, Withey will likely fall into that competition.

Marc Gasol: If Grizzlies don’t share my goal of continued growth, we might have to revisit things

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The Grizzlies’ Grit & Grind era has ended.

Zach Randolph signed with the Kings, and Tony Allen appears likely to leave Memphis, too. The Grizzlies are prioritizing younger/cheaper players like Ben McLemore and Tyreke Evans.

Marc Gasol via Ala Carta, as translated by HoopsHype:

I’m very ambitious and I’ve wanted Memphis to be a great franchise. We’ve grown a lot the last 6-7 years, but we have to keep growing. If this is not lined up, maybe we may have to revisit things.

Gasol has been loyal to Memphis, and his first wish is probably winning there. But Giannis Antetokounmpo put it well: Teams must also do right by their players. Gasol is 32 and doesn’t have much time in his prime left. I see why rebuilding wouldn’t interest him.

But what will he do about it if the Grizzlies don’t prioritize the present? They made their push last summer with a max contract for Chandler Parsons, but because Parsons can’t stay healthy, that deal only inhibits team growth.

Gasol is locked up for two more years before a player option. He doesn’t have much leverage. This is part of the reason LeBron James keeps signing short-term contracts. Gasol doesn’t have the same ability to steer his team in his desired direction

On the potentially bright side, rebuilding teams often don’t have much use for 32-year-olds guaranteed more than $72 million over the following three years. If the fit devolves, Memphis becomes more likely to trade him.

Celtics to retire Paul Pierce’s number after Cavaliers game in February

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The Celtics already said they’d retire Paul Pierce’s No. 34.

Now, we know when.

Celtics release:

The Boston Celtics announced today that they will retire Paul Pierce’s No. 34 after a mid-season game against the Cleveland Cavaliers on Sunday, Feb. 11

After? That’s apparently in response to a new rule that penalizes teams not ready to play after a 15-minute halftime. These ceremonies can drag on, and nobody wants to cut Pierce short. I wonder whether this will start a trend of number retirements coming after games.