Losers if John Calipari returns to the NBA: The Knicks

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John Calipari just shows up to watch the more important game so far in the NBA season — a game everybody wanted to have tickets for — and the rumors start flying.

john-calipari.jpgCalipari to the Cavs. Of course, last week it was Calipari to the Bulls. That’s not going to be the last rumor either.

Why Calipari is simple — he has ties to LeBron James. Every team that wants LeBron and needs a leg up in the recruiting process is going to be linked to the Calipari.

Except the Knicks. They made their coaching call two years ago when they signed Mike D’Antoni out from under Chicago.

Josh Alper breaks it down at NBCNewYork.com.

Vinny Del Negro’s keycard wasn’t even deactivated before the rumors of John Calipari’s interest in the Bulls coaching job started to pop up. Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports wrote that Calipari was intrigued by the thought of reuniting with his former Memphis charge Derrick Rose in Chicago. Gary Parrish of CBSSports.com then reported that multiple sources have told him that Calipari has long dreamed of coaching LeBron James who, as you’re surely aware, is a free agent this summer.

That last point, in and of itself, isn’t particularly notable. Plenty of coaches would like to coach the King. What is notable is that both Calipari and James are very close to William Wesley, a.k.a. “Worldwide Wes” a.k.a. one of the biggest behind the scenes power brokers in the NBA. What’s more, Calipari is repped by CAA, the same agency that represents other free agents in waiting Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh.

So if Calipari goes to Cleveland or Chicago, he’s doing so to coach LeBron — and that leaves the Knicks on the outside looking in at the free agent they covet above all others.

Most likely, Calipari returns to Kentucky. This is great leverage he has created in contract talks that are underway. But if you’re in the mood to speculate while you wait for July 1, Calipari makes a great topic.

Jared Dudley: Giannis Antetokounmpo practiced mean mugging in locker room

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Giannis Antetokounmpo‘s Game 3 dunk over Aron Baynes was great.

Antetokounmpo’s Game 4 dunk over Al Horford (seen above) is even better, because of the fantastic mean mug that followed.

The rise of Antetokounmpo is no accident. He worked hard to develop his on-court skills. And that includes all aspects.

Suns forward Jared Dudley, who played with Antetokounmpo on the 2014-15 Bucks:

This is the inside info we need.

Report: Knicks are Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer’s top choice for job

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Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer withdrew from the Suns coaching search, but that he was even involved with another opening while under contract with Atlanta is telling. It probably wasn’t about the Phoenix job being special. He’s also talking with the Knicks – and maybe that goes somewhere.

Marc Berman of the New York Post:

Mike Budenholzer is genuinely interested in the Knicks’ job, according to an NBA source who has spoken to the Hawks coach.

“New York’s his top choice,’’ the NBA source said. “If they offered him the job, he’d say yes. He wants to live in New York.’’

“Phoenix and the Knicks are trying to win every game,’’ said the NBA source who has spoken to Budenholzer recently. “There’s a good chance Atlanta is not looking to win games the next two years. This wasn’t Mike’s decision. He didn’t expect it. He doesn’t want to lose games.’’

Going to the Knicks to win? What a time to be alive.

But the Hawks are only one year into what appears to be a multi-year rebuild. Relative to that, New York is ahead.

When Kristaps Porzingis returns is the biggest variable. But Enes Kanter, Tim Hardaway Jr., Courtney Lee and Trey Burke are all in their primes. Atlanta is much thinner.

The Knicks would probably also offer Budenholzer a raise and the Hawks compensation. Though dealing with James Dolan carries downside, this could be a financial boon to everyone else involved. It’s no wonder Budenholzer and the Hawks are both into this.

The big question is whether New York, which is casting a wide net, tabs Budenholzer. He doesn’t have a clear connection to Knicks president Steve Mills or general manager Scott Perry. But Budenholzer is a demonstrably good coach, and that ought to matter plenty.

Andrew Bogut signs to play in NBL in native Australia

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Back in January, the Los Angeles Lakers waived Andrew Bogut. He had a very limited role on a Los Angeles team that was not making the playoffs, serving as a backup big man against teams who use a traditional center. That’s not much of a role anymore. He’s a center who can pass, shoot from the midrange a little, and knows where to be defensively, but the game has evolved as Bogut’s skills have faded. Bogut tried to latch on with a contender for the playoffs, but could not find a team to take him.

So he is going home.

Bogut is signing to play for the Sydney Kings in Australia’s NBL.

Bogut was the first No. 1 draft pick from Australia when he was selected by the Milwaukee Bucks in 2005. He made the All-Rookie team that season, was All-NBA in 2010, but may be best known for his role as a crucial part of the defense of the NBA champion Golden State Warriors in 2015 (and his injury during the 2016 Finals is an underrated reason Cleveland was able to pull off a miracle comeback).

At age 33 Bogut may not have a spot in the NBA, but in the NBL he both will thrive for a few more years but also be a huge draw and get the welcome home from fans that he deserves.

When Lance Stephenson gets a traveling call, he earns it (VIDEO)

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Yes, guys get away with traveling in the NBA. James Harden on the step back (sometimes, not always), or guys sliding left/right to avoid a closeout at the arc and not bothering to dribble while they do it.

Lance Stephenson got called for traveling Sunday in the Pacers’ loss to the Cavaliers. In a game where Stephenson got under the skin of LeBron James and drew a technical (and tied him up for a jump ball at one point), this was the best Lance highlight of the game. Because if you’re going to travel, you should go all in.

Never change Lance. Never change.