Washington Wizards assistant coach Sidney Lowe has been fined $5,000, and the Wizards’ organization has been fined $15,000, for Lowe’s standing on the playing court and potentially impacting game action during Washington’s 113-110 win over New York on Jan. 19 at Madison Square Garden, it was announced today by Kiki VanDeWeghe, Executive Vice President, Basketball Operations.

The Philadelphia 76ers signed guard Chasson Randle to a second 10-day contract today.

Randle has appeared in two games since being signed by the Sixers on January 9. He posted 10 points in 16 minutes in Monday’s win over the Bucks in Milwaukee.

Randle was most recently with the NBA D-League Westchester Knicks, where he appeared in 19 games and posted averages of 21 points, four rebounds, three assists and one steal in 32 minutes per game, while shooting 40% from three-point range.

Randle played four years at Stanford, posting career averages of 17 points, three rebounds, three assists and one steal in 144 career games (142 starts). He was named to the All-PAC 12 First Team his junior and senior seasons, and capped his collegiate career as Stanford’s all-time leading scorer with 2,375 points.

At this point, fans around the league have an opinion on Sixers center Joel Embiid. He’s on the map. It’s too soon to know how great he may become, but early signs pointing to stardom are very promising. Here’s Raptors coach Dwane Casey sharing his view, as reported by PhillySport:

Dwane Casey compares Joel Embiid to a young Shaq

Toronto Raptors coach Dwane Casey had high praise for 76ers center Joel Embiid, comparing him at a similar stage to 15-time all-star and four-time NBA champion Shaquille O’Neal.

“He is physical, has size, athletic ability, like a young Shaq coming into the league and Shaq didn’t shoot it like this young man,” Casey said before Wednesday’s game at the Wells Fargo Center against the Sixers.

Embiid entered the contest averaging 19.7 points, 7.7 rebounds and 2.43 blocked shots in 25.3 minutes per game.

Rodney McGruder a key defender for Heat

The Heat are just 12-30 this season, which through Tuesday’s games is the second worst record in the Eastern conference. Guard Rodney McGruder isn’t putting up big stats but he has been making his mark on the defensive side of the floor. Here’s the Palm Beach Post reporting:

Rodney McGruder didn’t expect to start this many games in his rookie season with the Heat.

And he definitely didn’t expect to be Miami’s go-to defender against the NBA’s top scorers.

But 42 games into the season, those expectations have changed. McGruder ranks sixth among rookies in starts with 25 and he’s already been asked to defend future Hall of Famers like LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony and Kevin Durant.

“At this point, I think this is the world that Rodney knows,” coach Erik Spoelstra said. “He’s either going against MVPs, former MVPs, future MVPs, definite All-Stars every single night. Whoever that big-ticket player is, Rodney you got him. Make him work. He’s absolutely stepped up to that challenge.

“Does that mean he’s winning battles? No. But he makes you earn everything and fight for every inch that you get.”

The 18-24 Knicks have lost eight of their last ten games through Tuesday’s action. They’re hoping not to lose Kristaps Porzingis for much longer. The talented young big hasn’t played in the last four games (including Wednesday night’s action). Here’s NY Newsday reporting:

Kristaps Porzingis and Joakim Noah will have MRIs Thursday

Kristaps Porzingis and Joakim Noah were unable to play Wednesday night, and both are scheduled to undergo MRIs Thursday morning on their respective injuries.

Porzingis has a sore left Achilles that kept him out for a fourth straight game. Noah sat out against the Celtics with a sprained left ankle.

Noah said his ankle swelled up after the plane ride to Boston and he was in so much pain he didn’t even test it out at shootaround or before the game. Porzingis went through shootaround and did a workout before the game.

Hawks sign Gary Neal to 10-day contract

Hawks sign Gary Neal to 10-day contract

The Atlanta Hawks signed guard Gary Neal to a 10-day contract today, team President of Basketball Operations/Head Coach Mike Budenholzer announced.

Neal has played six seasons in the NBA with San Antonio, Milwaukee, Charlotte, Minnesota and Washington, and has averaged 9.9 points, 2.2 rebounds and 1.6 assists, logging 21.4 minutes in 350 games (31 starts). The native of Baltimore, MD played collegiately at La Salle (2002-04) and Towson (2005-07) and was undrafted in 2007.

Neal, who was most recently with the Texas Legends of the NBA Development League, will wear uniform No. 14.

Hawks trade for draft rights to Cenk Akyol

The Atlanta Hawks have acquired a Traded Player Exception and the draft rights to Cenk Akyol as part of a trade that sent Mo Williams to the Denver Nuggets, President of Basketball Operations/Head Coach Mike Budenholzer announced today.

The Hawks will have one year from today to utilize the Traded Player Exception.

Akyol, 29, was originally drafted by the Hawks with the 59th overall selection in the second round of the 2005 NBA Draft. The 6-6 guard from Turkey currently plays for Acibadi Universitesi Istanbul of the Turkish Basketball League and has appeared in 11 games this season, averaging 6.8 points, 3.0 rebounds and 1.64 assists in 21.4 minutes per game.

Williams, 34, was traded from Cleveland to Atlanta along with Mike Dunleavy and a conditional 2019 first round pick in exchange for Kyle Korver on Jan. 7, 2017. He has appeared in a total of 818 career games (525 starts) over 15 seasons with Milwaukee, Cleveland, Utah, L.A. Clippers, Portland, Minnesota and Charlotte, averaging 13.2 points, 2.8 rebounds and 4.9 assists in 29.2 minutes.

Chris Paul out 6-8 weeks with thumb injury

Chris Paul out 6-8 weeks with thumb injury

The L.A. Clippers announced today that guard Chris Paul will undergo surgery on Wednesday, Jan. 18 to repair a torn ligament in his left thumb. Dr. Steve Shin will perform the procedure.

Paul is expected to miss approximately six-to-eight weeks and will continue to undergo treatment and evaluation by the Clippers medical staff.

According to ESPN.com, “Paul was defending Russell Westbrook and sprained the thumb fighting over a screen set by Joffrey Lauvergne at the top of the 3-point line. The Clippers called a timeout shortly after, and Paul immediately walked off the court, kicking the bench as he exited. Paul could be seen on the TNT broadcast shaking his head at Clippers team trainer Jasen Powell as they walked through the players tunnel to the locker room.”

In 36 games this season, the Clippers are 26-9 with Paul in the lineup. The nine-time NBA All-Star is averaging 17.5. points, 9.7 assists and 5.3 rebounds this season and leads the NBA with 2.25 steals per game.

Omri Casspi out with calf injury

Omri Casspi out with calf injury

An MRI taken last night at Kaiser Permanente in Sacramento revealed that forward Omri Casspi suffered a strain of the right plantaris tendon during practice on Monday.

He is expected to miss up to two weeks of action.

The eight-year NBA veteran is averaging 5.9 points (.453 FG%, .379 3pt%, .571 FT%), 4.1 rebounds and 1.2 assists in 18 minutes per contest this season.

According to the Sacramento Bee, “it has been a trying season for Casspi, whose role has diminished under Dave Joerger. Casspi had appeared in just six of the Kings’ last 15 games and is averaging 5.9 points and 4.1 rebounds.”

The Miami Heat today signed forward Okaro White to a 10-day contract.

White has appeared in 23 games (all starts) for the HEAT’s NBA Development League affiliate, the Sioux Falls Skyforce, this season averaging 18.4 points, 8.7 rebounds, 1.7 assists, 1.09 steals and 33.0 minutes while shooting 43.9 percent from the field and 86 percent from the foul line. He has helped the Skyforce to a division best 16-5 record while ranking second on the team in points (424), rebounds (201), field goals made (144), three-point field goals made (38) and free throws made (98).

White, who was originally signed by the HEAT on July 15, 2016, previously appeared in six preseason games with Miami earlier this season and averaged 5.7 points, 4.3 rebounds and 9.5 minutes. Additionally, he appeared in five games with Miami’s Summer League team in Las Vegas this past summer and averaged 8.6 points, 5.8 rebounds, 1.4 assists and 1.00 steals.

White spent last season with Aris B.C. of the Greek Basketball League appearing in 35 games (32 starts) and averaged 13.9 points, 7.3 rebounds, 1.6 assists, 1.57 steals and 26.8 minutes while shooting 49.1 percent from the field. He was selected as the Greek Basketball Player of the Year and named to the All-Greek A1 League First Team, All-Defensive Team and All-Imports Team. He spent the 2014-15 season in Italy with Virtus Pallacanestro Bologna averaging 12.1 points, 6.8 rebounds, 1.1 assists and 1.00 blocks in 33 games (32 starts).

White played all four seasons at Florida State University appearing in 139 career games (94 starts). He set the school record for games played and finished fifth in free throws made (401), seventh in free throw percentage (.800), 10th in games started, 10th in blocks (107), 14th in rebounds (704), 16th in points (1,402) and 25th in field goals made (466). As a senior, he was named to the All-ACC Defensive Team and was presented with the Chairman of the Boards award, the Most Outstanding Offensive Player award, the Most Outstanding Defensive Player award and the award for the team’s top field goal percentage shooter at the Seminole’s annual Honors Banquet. Additionally, he earned the 2014 Golden Nole award in men’s basketball for significant contributions on the court, in the classroom and in the community.

The Toronto Raptors’ DeMar DeRozan and the Utah Jazz’s Gordon Hayward today were named NBA Eastern and Western Conference Players of the Week, respectively, for games played Monday, Jan. 9 through Sunday, Jan. 15.

DeRozan led the Raptors to a 3-0 week, averaging 30.7 points (second in the East) on 51.5 percent shooting to go with 7.3 rebounds. The 27-year-old guard opened the week by posting season highs of 41 points and 13 rebounds in a 114-106 win over the Boston Celtics on Jan. 10. The performance marked the two-time All-Star’s third 40-point game of the season. He closed the week by tallying 23 points, five rebounds and five assists in 28 minutes in a 116-101 win over the New York Knicks on Jan. 15.

Hayward averaged 23.7 points on 73.5 percent shooting (fourth in the West) and added 6.0 rebounds and 4.0 assists as the Jazz won all three of its games. The 26-year-old forward shot 10-for-12 from the field on his way to 28 points in a 100-92 win over the defending champion Cleveland Cavaliers on Jan. 10. Hayward tied a season high with four three-pointers against the Cavaliers and shot 60.0 percent (9-for-15) from behind the arc for the week.

Other nominees for the NBA Eastern and Western Conference Players of the Week were Boston’s Isaiah Thomas, the LA Clippers’ DeAndre Jordan and Chris Paul, Miami’s Hassan Whiteside, Oklahoma City’s Russell Westbrook, Philadelphia’s Joel Embiid, Phoenix’s Devin Booker and Toronto’s Jonas Valanciunas.

Forward/center Johnny O’Bryant III of the Northern Arizona Suns today was named NBA Development League Performer of the Week for games played Monday, Jan. 9 through Sunday, Jan. 15.

O’Bryant (6-9, 257, LSU) averaged 24.0 points and 17.0 rebounds (second in the NBA D-League) for the week as the Phoenix Suns’ NBA D-League affiliate went 2-0. He opened the week with 22 points, 17 rebounds and three steals in a 94-88 victory over the Oklahoma City Blue on Jan. 10. In his next game, O’Bryant made a season-high four three-pointers on his way to 26 points, grabbed 17 rebounds and handed out three assists in a 121-90 win against the Grand Rapids Drive on Jan. 14.

For the season, the 23-year-old O’Bryant is averaging 17.5 points and 8.8 rebounds in 22 games. O’Bryant, the 36th overall pick in NBA Draft 2014 presented by State Farm, played a total of 100 games with the Milwaukee Bucks over the previous two seasons.

Other players considered for the NBA Development League Performer of the Week were Canton’s Eric Moreland, Fort Wayne’s Alex Poythress, Los Angeles’ Vander Blue, Rio Grande Valley’s Darius Morris, Santa Cruz’s Phil Pressey, Texas’ Pierre Jackson and Windy City’s Alfonzo McKinnie.

Jahlil Okafor, professional scorer

One of the best things that could happen to the Sixers, aside from having all of their young talent healthy at the same time, would be for Jahlil Okafor to rise up and reach his potential. It’s been a down year for Okafor, but he definitely stepped up Saturday. Here’s CSN Philly reporting:

Jahlil Okafor, professional scorer

Jahlil Okafor’s string of four straight DNPs came to an end Saturday. He quickly made up for lost time at the basket.

Okafor scored a game-high 26 points (10 for 16 from the field, 6 for 11 from the line) with nine rebounds and a block in 36 minutes in the Sixers’ 109-93 loss to the Wizards…

Okafor got off to a hot start, scoring nine points in six first quarter minutes. He dropped another seven in the second. Okafor had a quiet third with four points — the Sixers only scored 15 in the quarter. He played the entire fourth quarter and added another six points.

“Jahlil Okafor is a professional scorer,” Brett Brown said. “For him to just jump into an NBA game and be given 35 minutes, him being very, very good fitness-wise, and for him to score like he scored at 21 years old, that’s Jahlil Okafor. That’s what he does.”

Josh Richardson not returning yet for Heat

Josh Richardson not returning yet for Heat

It does not appear that Josh Richardson will be returning anytime soon.

Heat coach Erik Spoelstra today acknowledged it “would be safe” to say Richardson is week-to-week instead of day-to-day. Miami’s second year guard has missed the last three games after an X-ray and MRI revealed he had a sprained left foot.

“It is still only a sprain, he is getting better but he still is in a boot,” Spoelstra said following the Heat practice today.

Miami (11-30) starts a four-game home stand Tuesday against the Rockets.

– Palm Beach Post

New York Knicks center/forward Kyle O’Quinn has been fined $25,000 for striking and pushing New Orleans Pelicans forward/center Anthony Davis from behind, it was announced today by Kiki VanDeWeghe, Executive Vice President, Basketball Operations.

The incident, for which O’Quinn was assessed a Flagrant Foul 2 and ejected, occurred with 1:16 remaining in the third quarter of the Knicks’ 110-96 loss to the Pelicans on Jan. 9 at Madison Square Garden.

Justin Anderson fined for foul on Kris Dunn

Dallas Mavericks guard/forward Justin Anderson has been fined $25,000 for striking Minnesota Timberwolves guard Kris Dunn in the head, it was announced today by Kiki VanDeWeghe, Executive Vice President, Basketball Operations.

The incident, which was called a Flagrant Foul 1 on the floor and upgraded to a Flagrant Foul 2 upon league office review, occurred with 10:45 remaining in the second quarter of the Timberwolves’ 101-92 victory over the Mavericks on Jan. 9 at Target Center.

Latest Derrick Rose Knicks news

Is Derrick Rose doing OK? Well, he’s back with the Knicks. So, he’s physically fine. But mentally and emotionally? We’ll see. Here’s the New York Daily News reporting:

Latest Derrick Rose Knicks news

Derrick Rose is confident the issue that caused him to abruptly leave the Knicks on Monday has been resolved and that he’s back with the team for the long haul. But the veteran point guard also admitted that if he needed more time away from the Knicks he would not hesitate to ask the team for permission.

“No, not at all,” Rose said early Wednesday. “The relationship I’m building with Phil (Jackson) and Steve (Mills) I wouldn’t mind asking (for time off) if I needed it. But like I said, I feel fine and what happened a couple of days ago is just the past.”

Rose was fined but not suspended for going AWOL on Monday and missing the Knicks loss to the New Orleans Pelicans. Rose made the peculiar decision not to notify the team of his intentions to return to his hometown of Chicago Monday afternoon. Also, Rose refused to return repeated phone calls and text messages from team officials from several hours. The Knicks were so concerned about Rose that they sent an employee to his Manhattan apartment.

Here’s the South Florida Sun-Sentinel reporting on Heat center Hassan Whiteside and 2017 All-Star voting:

Hassan Whiteside not closely monitoring All-Star votes

Whiteside isn’t getting his hopes up when it comes to fan voting for the Feb. 19 All-Star Game, even as he puts up All-Star numbers, including his 28 points and 20 rebounds Tuesday against the Warriors.

After ranking ninth among Eastern Conference frontcourt players in last week’s initial release, Whiteside said he won’t be monitoring the weekly returns.

“It’s just a popularity contest at this point,” he said. “Our record was better than the 76ers [at the last balloting release] and Joel Embiid was fourth.”

Whiteside said that the All-Star selections should not turn into a referendum on a team’s place in the standings, with the Heat 11-29 going into Friday’s game against the Milwaukee Bucks at BMO Harris Bradley Center, which will mark the midpoint of their season.

“I don’t really feel like All-Stars should even be a record thing,” he said. “It’s the individual thing. That’s why they don’t bring the whole team; they bring a player.”

Rajon Rondo has spent a number of recent Bulls games sitting and watching Bulls games. It’s good work if you can find it. He finally got minutes off the bench Tuesday night. But in general, here’s CSN Chicago reporting on the situation prior to tonight’s game:

Rajon Rondo still benched by Bulls

If the Rajon Rondo benching was clear to some, it wasn’t to everybody even as Rondo prepares for a one-game exodus from the pine.

Namely Rondo himself, and one wonders where the saga is headed next as the Bulls near the midseason mark with no resolution to a situation involving their first free-agent signing.

“I don’t know,” said Rondo as the Bulls’ litany of absences have prompted them to turn back to his direction as they’ll play the Wizards Tuesday night at the Verizon Center.

“I know a little bit of what’s going on, but it’s out of my control really, as far as what they have going on. So I’m going to have to play better.”

Sixers sign Chasson Randle to 10-day contract

The Philadelphia 76ers signed guard Chasson Randle to a 10-day contract today.

Randle was most recently with the NBA D-League Westchester Knicks, where he appeared in 19 games and posted averages of 21 points, four rebounds, three assists and one steal in 32 minutes per game, while shooting 40% from three-point range.

Prior to joining Westchester, he appeared in 21 games for ČEZ Nymburk of the Czech Republic’s National Basketball League, where he averaged 15 points, two rebounds, two assists and two steals per game, while helping the team win the 2015-16 league championship.

Randle played four years at Stanford, posting career averages of 17 points, three rebounds, three assists and one steal in 144 career games (142 starts). He was named to the All-PAC 12 First Team his junior and senior seasons, and capped his collegiate career as Stanford’s all-time leading scorer with 2,375 points.

Randle will wear number 5 for the Sixers.

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