Let's get down to it:
Two-time NBA Champion Mario Chalmers had a very solid season facilitating the LeBron James show this past season. Chalmers continued his improvement from behind the arc, shooting 41% from downtown on 5.2 attempts per game, and started 77 while keeping up his top-20 steal rate and ending the year in the Heat's top-5 in Win Shares.Perhaps Mario's biggest contribution was his showing in the NBA finals where he thrice was an integral part of Heat wins. especially in the comeback Game 6 victory in which he went for 20 points on 11 shots and was the second-leading scorer and hit 4 of 5 from three-point range. The Heat will be looking for more of the same as they are the odds-on favorite and attempt to three-peat in 2013-14...
Xavier Henry has had a rough go of it in the NBA thus-far. He struggled early on, as most one-and-dones seem to do unless they're Kyrie or Derrick Rose, and has gotten sporadic minutes for a middling to bad Hornets team after being traded by the Grizzlies after his rookie year. Henry could have looked worse in his time in N.O., but not by much... he couldn't hit from within the arc, was lukewarm from without, and has never been comfortable from the Free Throw line, with a 62% conversion rate for his career. However, he's hoping a new venue and some veteran oversight will help in 13-14 as he was signed by the L.A. Lakers after the Hornets...err... Pelicans declined his option in order to swing their deals for Tyreke Evans and Jrue Holiday and attempt to contend this year. From a KU basketball perspective one considers what might have been had Zaa-vee-aaay stayed in college rather than moving on after his freshman year, but $6.5M in the bank seem like a decent return for Henry over three NBA seasons, and who knows what will happen with his new L.A opportunity, I'd love to see him carve out a role there.
Mini-update (10/6): I just witnessed Xavier channeling Kobe in the Lakers' first preseason game. Xavier went off for 29 against a mixture of Golden State's 1st-3rd stringers on what I believe was 15 or 16 FG attempts (including swishing a 3/4 court end-of-half buzzer-beater). It looks as if this performance may single-handedly move Xavier from the non-guaranteed training camp contract life to having snagged a guaranteed full-year deal, but we'll see for sure before too long. There's sure a lot of opportunity at SF for this quasi-rebuilding Lakers squad.
Mini-update (10/30): Xavier picked up where he left off in the preseason against the Clippers in the season opener, going for 22 points on 13 shots, going 3-4 from three, with 6 rebounds, 2 assists and a steal. Xavier would do well to improve his foul shooting if he keeps drawing fouls at the rate he has as he only went 3-8 from the line. Whether he is able to keep this up will be an interesting story moving forward.
Cole had an interesting year after being traded from Oklahoma City to the Houston Rockets just before the start of the season in the now-infamous James Harden trade. This certainly put Cole in an odd position as he was on the verge of competing for decent bench-big-man minutes after the departure of Nazr Muhammad and was essentially included in the deal to make the accounting work out. With little to no time to prepare for the new season with the Rockets Cole played minor minutes before being traded in a deadline deal to acquire another Jayhawk, Thomas Robinson, in what has been deemed a cash-grab by the universally reviled Maloofs as they looted the Kings organization of all they could before selling the franchise to Vivek Randive and leaving town. Cole had marginally more minutes for the Kings but was only afforded more than 20 minutes in the final two games of the year in which he showed a bit of his potential in going for double-doubles in both, missing one shot, averaging 12 points and 12.5 rebounds in 24.5 minutes... The Kings declined Cole's option as they attempted to overhaul the team and Cole has signed on for camp with the New York Knicks. You have to think that a guy who has showed the ability to play a decent around-the-basket game and produce when given minutes (especially with how he ended the season on back-to-back double-doubles) would get a decent shot to make that roster. I'm excited that he'll be able to learn a thing or two about defending the pick-and-roll from a stopper like Tyson Chandler if he can manage to make the roster for an extended length of time.
Mini-update (10/30): Cole has made the Knicks squad.
Darnell's last full NBA season was the 2010-2011 campaign for the Sacramento Kings in which he averaged about 9 minutes and 3.5 points per game. Since then he has had stints in the Ukranian Super League, China, and most recently with the Reno Bighorns of the NBA D-League. Jackson spent the NBA Summer League playing for the D-League Select squad which went 4-1. Jackson averaged 9.8 points, 5.2 rebounds, and 1.5 assists in 20 minutes per game while shooting 60% from the floor in the 5 games. He recently signed a deal with the Indiana Pacers and will hope to carve out a spot with the Eastern Conference contenders as his deal is likely unguaranteed and the Pacers will likely be cutting a few of their camp invites from the roster before the season in order to maintain flexibility moving forward.
Mini-update (10/30): Darnell Jackson was cut from the Pacers. I'm not sure whether he'll be going back to the D-league or playing overseas, but I'll be on the lookout.