Portland Trail Blazers power forward LaMarcus Aldridge will suit up on Thursday against the Atlanta Hawks. Aldridge has missed the Blazers' last seven games after injuring his back in San Antonio on March 12. Portland has gone 3-4 since then and has lost its last three games and eight of its last 11, falling to fifth in the West. The ninth-place Dallas Mavericks are only two games behind them, which has put pressure on the star big man to return.
"We've got 10 games left and the way we are in the standings makes me want to come back faster, want to try to get things back on track," Aldridge said, via Trailblazers.com's Casey Holdahl.
Following the Hawks game, the Blazers will travel to Chicago to face the Bulls. Before the end of the season, Portland will play against the Memphis Grizzlies, Phoenix Suns and Golden State Warriors, the three teams directly below them in the playoff race. The Blazers had a tremendous start to the season, but they're going to have to earn their way into the postseason.
In news that shouldn't shock anyone, Syracuse point guard Tyler Ennis will not be returning to the Orange for his sophomore season. After an excellent freshman year, he announced in a statement through the school that his next stop is the NBA:
"I'd like to thank Coach Boeheim, the coaching staff, my teammates and the amazing fans of Syracuse for the opportunity to play at a great university like Syracuse," said Ennis. "I feel this experience has helped prepare me to fulfill my lifelong dream - to play in the NBA."
Ennis averaged 12.9 points, 3.4 rebounds, 5.5 assists and 2.1 steals for Syracuse. DraftExpress projects him to be selected No. 14 in the draft, so his head coach likely thinks he should have chosen to stay, which is silly.
Milwaukee Bucks forward Ersan Ilyasova's 2013-2014 season is over due to a right ankle injury, the team announced on Thursday. After seeing a specialist in Los Angeles on Tuesday, he has been shut down for rest and rehabilitation, according to the team's Twitter account. He will not require surgery.
Ilyasova appeared in 55 games for Milwaukee this season, averaging 11.2 points and 6.2 rebounds. He shot 40.9 percent from the field and a career-low 28.2 percent from behind the three-point line, making this the least efficient year of his career. The league-worst Bucks are 13-58.
Kings don't sign Royce White for rest of the season
Forward Royce White did not accompany the Sacramento Kings when they left for their three-game road trip on Thursday. White had completed two 10-day contracts and, if the Kings wanted to bring him along, they had to sign him for the rest of the season.
Sacramento general manager Pete D'Alessandro is away on a personal matter and White's status with the team will be decided when he returns, according to Sean Cunningham of News10 Sacramento. The two will meet in the near future, per Cunningham.
White spent his first 10-day contract with the Kings' D-League affiliate, the Reno Bighorns, and has played nine minutes spread across three games for Sacramento, not yet scoring a point in the NBA.
Metta World Peace 'abso-bleeping-lutely' wants New York return
Free agent forward Metta World Peace apparently wants another chance with the New York Knicks now that Phil Jackson is on board as president. World Peace spent some time in a Staples Center suite with Jackson during the Knicks' disastrous 127-96 loss to the Los Angeles Lakers on Tuesday and a source told the New York Post's Marc Berman that he'd like to sign another contract with New York in the summer:
World Peace has told confidants he yearns for a second chance as a Knick after his first stint went sour. When asked if the former Ron Artest wants another shot at New York when he's a free agent this summer, the confidant told The Post:
World Peace previously played for Jackson in Los Angeles. The Knicks waived him in February, reportedly because he asked to be bought out after being told not to take on a leadership role.