Baseline to Baseline, your game recaps

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LeBron_melo.jpgOur game recaps from Thursday, or what you missed while sleeping off your trade deadline hangover.

Denver 118, Cleveland 116 (OT) Damn, that was fun.  If you did miss it, I don’t know what to tell you, but sorry. It’s exactly what you want in a game to watch — close, back and forth, with the best players for each team matched up on each other. Carmelo Anthony and LeBron James mano-a-mano. As God intended.

LeBron could not be stopped, he had 43, with 15 assists and 13 rebounds and he was getting to the rim like the beast he is (he was only 3 of 15 from outside 10 feet). Carmelo Anthony had 40 — and the game winner with 1.9 seconds left in overtime. On a contested 21-footer. That’s a hard shot, but that’s the shot great players hit.

The Cavaliers were reminded why they did not want to trade JJ Hickson tonight, but speaking of trades they did miss Big Z tonight, especially since no Jamison in yet to take his place. Mo Williams was back but he looked rusty (however had a couple nice threes.

Boston 87, Los Angeles Lakers 86 This was the first game where the Lakers really missed Kobe. And we’re not talking about that ugly last shot by Derek Fisher… well, yes we are, Kobe can create his own shot in a way Fisher never could. Kobe hit the game winner in Boston.

Where the Lakers really missed Kobe was on defense — Ray Allen was a non-factor in the first meeting between these teams because of Kobe’s defense. The Lakers started with Fisher on Allen and he got hot just shooting over the top of him, and once Allen gets hot he’s hard to stop even now. He had 24 on 10 of 15 from the floor. Doc Rivers joked after the game they should threaten to trade him every week.

The other spot the Lakers missed Kobe was early, when Boston raced out to an 11-2 lead. Those kind of runs is when Kobe will take the ball and take some shots, get his team a few points and settle things down. The Lakers didn’t settle down fast early, and they did not settle down late.

For the Celtics, that is a very good road win. They reminded you that in a game called like a playoff game — the refs let them bang, especially in the second half — they are at home. This is still a team really built for the playoffs, not the regular season. Health remains the key issue, but they remind you that they are a contender for a reason.

Basketball Hall of Famer John Kundla dies at 101

AP
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MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — John Kundla, the Hall of Fame coach who led the Minneapolis Lakers to five NBA championships, died Sunday. He was 101.

Son Jim Kundla said his father died at an assisted living facility in Northeast Minneapolis that he has called home for years.

Kundla coached George Mikan and the Lakers in the 1940s and 1950s, helping them become the NBA’s first dynasty. He went 423-302 before retiring at the age of 42 and went on to coach his alma mater, the University of Minnesota.

Kundla was the oldest living Hall of Famer in any of the four major pro sports.

Kundla was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1995. A year later, he was named one of the league’s 10 greatest coaches as part of the league’s “NBA at 50” celebration.

 

Report: Magic signing Marreese Speights to one-year, minimum contract

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It’s a tough market for free-agent centers, as Marreese Speights learned the hard way.

Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today:

I wonder whether Speights regrets opting out with the Clippers, who were also slated to pay him a minimum salary. Not only is he stuck with a low-paying deal, he’s on a worse team and one with center depth.

Nikola Vucevic and Bismack Biyombo should play only center, where Speights is best. Speights can also play power forward, but Aaron Gordon should get all his minutes there. Maybe Jonathan Isaac should, too, though it’s more tolerable to play him at small forward while the rookie adjusts to the NBA.

Simply, there won’t be much playing time for Speights unless Orlando makes a trade (maybe this is a harbinger) or plays too big of lineups (a lesson it should have learned last season).

Likewise, the Clippers will be fine, though less versatile, without Speights. The acquired Willie Reed (free agency) and Montrezl Harrell (Chris Paul trade) to play behind DeAndre Jordan.

Speights clearly isn’t essential, but he has expanded his range beyond the 3-point arc. He defends with effort, though not necessarily well. There’s a place in the league for stretch fives like him. But he turns 30 in a couple weeks, and his stock is clearly low. At least he’ll have a chance for a bigger payday next summer.

Kristaps Porzingis on Knicks: “This is where I want to stay… this is where I want to win”

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There were multiple, connected reasons it was time for the Knicks to move on from the Phil Jackson era — a triangle of reasons, really — but this one should have been at the top of the list:

He was alienating Krisptaps Porzingis.

We don’t know yet if Porzingis can be a franchise NBA player, however, he shows the potential to do it. He could become a top five NBA player you can build a contender around. You endear yourselves to those kinds of players, not get into power struggles that lead to said player blowing off end-of-year meetings and being guided out the door.

With Jackson gone, Porzingis has more motivation to stay a Knick and be the guy that turns the franchise’s fortunes around. KP was running a youth hoops camp in his native Latvia and was taking questions from the children when one kid got in a question the New York media would have loved to ask: Are you going to abandon New York? Here is Porzingis’ answer, translated and obtained by the New York Post.

“I feel that it is the best place to win. And if you win in New York, you are king. For the last two years, I have had so many positive emotions here that this is where I want to stay and that this is where I want to win.”

The Knicks have their cornerstone big. Now they need a guy on the outside (Kyrie Irving will get mentioned, but he is not the only answer), they need to get and develop young players to go with their stars. It’s the next phase for the Knicks.

But if they can keep Porzingis happy, they can lock him up to a max rookie extension after next year and have that piece in place. Then it’s up to Steve Mills and Scott Perry to put the pieces around him.

Report: LeBron James won’t waive his no-trade clause

AP Photo/Ron Schwane
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They Cavaliers have had a frustratingly lousy offseason.

They ousted trusted general manager David Griffin. Since, they’ve watched Golden State load up while their roster stagnates, as stars like Paul George and Jimmy Butler have landed elsewhere. Now, Kyrie Irving is requesting a trade and reportedly blaming LeBron James for that leaking.

LeBron has practically thrown up his hands and left ownership and management to figure out everything.

But LeBron – with rumors swirling about him leaving in 2018 free agency – won’t take an earlier exit.

Chris Haynes of ESPN:

LeBron James will not waive his no-trade clause for any teams at any point during the 2017-18 season, league sources tell ESPN.

Cleveland essentially has two options with Irving:

1. Trade him for better, older players

2. Trade him for worse, younger players

No. 2 becomes much more palatable if the Cavs can also flip LeBron (and Kevin Love) and launch into a full rebuild. But as long as LeBron is around, it’s hard not to contend for a title.

But if they trade Irving for immediate help and LeBron leaves next summer, the Cavaliers could be left with a ghastly roster. That might be the risk they’re forced to take now.

It’s hard to believe the Cavs would trade beloved LeBron, even if he didn’t hold veto power. It would turn owner Dan Gilbert and general manager Koby Altman into Cleveland villains, co-conspirators in LeBron leaving again. If Gilbert and Altman dare LeBron to leave in free agency, LeBron would have to own the decision himself.

Still, if LeBron and Irving would return incredible hauls of younger players and draft picks – I can’t even imagine what LeBron would draw in a trade – Gilbert and Altman should at least consider it. It just doesn’t seem the Cavs will have that option.