Milwaukee Bucks center Larry Sanders will return to the court on Friday against the Brooklyn Nets. The big man has missed the team's last 25 games after tearing a ligament in his thumb during a bar fight. This is great news for a Bucks defense that has struggled all season, but it is unclear how head coach Larry Drew will incorporate Sanders into the rotation. He averaged only 17 minutes in his three appearances to start the season, with Drew refusing to play him in fourth quarters.
Drew said on Thursday he wasn't sure if Sanders would start, but was pleased with how he practiced, via Andrew Gruman of Fox Sports Wisconsin:
Larry Drew on Larry Sanders: "He was really good today. The energy, he was real bouncy. Defensively he was very active and energized."— Andrew Gruman (@AndrewGruman) December 26, 2013
The NBA released a statement on Thursday about Los Angeles Clippers power forward Blake Griffin's Christmas ejection. President of basketball operations Rod Thorn said that Griffin should have received a common foul, then Warriors center Andrew Bogut should have been handed a technical foul. If that had been the case, then Griffin would have remained in the game rather than having to leave with 10:43 left in the fourth quarter. Not sure this makes the Clippers' 105-103 loss easier to stomach in the slightest, but at least the league admitted a mistake was made.
Draymond Green fined $15,000 for failing to leave court in timely manner
Griffin's ejection wasn't the only thing the NBA had to deal with after that Warriors/Clippers game. On Thursday, the league fined Golden State forward Draymond Green $15,000 for failing to leave the court after being ejected. Green was assessed a flagrant-2 foul after elbowing Griffin at the end of the third quarter on Wednesday. When informed he had been ejected, Green argued with the referees instead of swiftly leaving the court area, even with his teammates pushing him away.
Dion Waiters to return Thursday against Hawks
Cleveland Cavaliers guard Dion Waiters will be available to play in Thursday's game against the Atlanta Hawks, according to the Cleveland Plain Dealer. Waiters missed the last three games with right wrist tendinitis. Cleveland is coming off a 23-point loss to the Detroit Pistons and a 16-point loss to the Chicago Bulls.
Los Angeles Lakers big man Pau Gasol did not travel with his teammates to Utah on Thursday and will likely miss their game against the Utah Jazz on Friday. Gasol has an upper respiratory infection and the team has him officially listed as day-to-day.
The Memphis Grizzlies are not trying to ship power forward Zach Randolph out of town, according to Ken Berger of CBS Sports. Instead of tearing down the team that made it to last year's Western Conference finals, the Grizzlies' front office is apparently trying to add an athletic wing player to the roster. Memphis is currently 12-15, a half-game behind the New Orleans Pelicans at the bottom of the Southwest Division.
The New York Knicks have their sights set on Boston Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo, according to ESPN's Brian Windhorst. They are reportedly hoping that Rondo will decide that he wants to spend his next few years in New York and force the Celtics to trade him there. It is unclear what useful assets the Knicks could send to Boston in such a scenario.
The league announced the second returns on all-star voting, and the results so far are unlikely to shock you. The league's two best players, LeBron James and Kevin Durant, rank first and second in total votes. The injured Kobe Bryant is still the leading vote-getter among guards in the West, which you can choose to be mad about if you like to get mad about things.