Do the Knicks have momentum?

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Please bear in mind that at least among what I consider to be the very intelligent NBA writers and “people” I speak to on a consistent basis, the Knicks should not be here. They were in such a hole, it took Donnie Walsh and Mike D’Antoni two years just to clear the rest of the garbage out. To do so they leveraged their future, and are starting the franchise over from scratch, only without the benefit that an expansion team has of draft picks (again, traded just to get themselves out of the garbage infested hole).

Then free agency opened, and I’m not going to kid you here, they got their tails kicked. The reports were at best “lukewarm” and at worst “indifferent” on the part of their target, LeBron James. Then came word that they were in serious talks with Amar’e Stoudemire, and that Dwyane Wade was “intrigued.” Then yesterday Amar’e was escalated to starting talks.

Then late Sunday, just as you were cracking open that Bud Light and trying to figure out which end to light the Roman Candle, reports came out that James’ representatives met with Knicks executives Saturday night. This a day after Stoudemire’s little talk outside the theater. The signal is clear.

The Knicks mean business.

As our man Rob Mahoney told you when we brought you news of the second Knicks meeting, the Knicks are still facing a huge sell-job to get even one, much less two max free agents. But the fact is they’ve already planted themselves in this race. Outside of the market, they had very little going for them. Now, it’s hard to find any way to put their odds for getting James or Wade behind Miami, the Clippers, or the Nets. While the Cavs and Bulls remain firmly in the front of the pack, the Knicks are making their move. And as we head into Monday, the earliest conceivable day James could reach a decision, the Knicks have something else on their side.

Momentum.

Whoever winds up landing LeBron or Wade is likely going to do so in a wave, capitalizing on a series of meetings while leaving the competition in the dust.  The Knicks have managed to get in early, land a second max free agent, then get a second meeting late.

It’s a very long way from a commitment, but it would appear the Knicks have gotten traction. They’re not out of the hole, but they can see daylight. And if they continue to pour on the pressure, the Knicks may actually pull this thing off and lead all us doubters with our jaws wide open.

Money and market go a long way. Don’t believe me? Ask yourself why Maverick Carter is meeting with Knicks people on the eve of the Fourth of July when nothing was scheduled. It’s not the first second meeting the max guys have had, but it’s certainly one that’s caused the NBA world to pick up their ears like a German Shepherd.

Report: Kevin McHale also in mix for team president in Orlando

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Cavaliers GM David Griffin — who doesn’t have a contract with the team beyond this year, but who LeBron James has endorsed — is on their radar.

Larry Bird, who is stepping down in Indiana, is a potential target.

You can add Kevin McHale to the list of former NBA executives the Orlando Magic are taking a look at in their search for a new head of basketball operations, reports Sam Amick of the USA Today.

The Orlando Magic have serious interest in Hall of Famer and TNT analyst Kevin McHale for their team president position, according to two people with knowledge of the situation….But McHale, who served as Minnesota Timberwolves vice president of basketball operations from 1995 to 2008 while also serving as the team’s head coach on two occasions, is known to be on the Timberwolves’ short list as well. The Magic would strongly prefer someone who has previously been a general manager for the president position.

But McHale, who served as Minnesota Timberwolves vice president of basketball operations from 1995 to 2008 while also serving as the team’s head coach on two occasions, is known to be on the Timberwolves’ short list as well. The Magic would strongly prefer someone who has previously been a general manager for the president position.

McHale made some franchise-defining moves as the head man in Minnesota — he drafted Kevin Garnett and he brought Flip Saunders into the organization, he brought in Sam Cassell and Latrell Spreewell and that got the Timberwolves to the conference finals in 2004, to use a few examples.

He had his share of mistakes, too. Like drafting Ray Allen then trading him for Stephon Marbury, or drafting Brandon Roy and trading him for Randy Foye.

The Orlando roster has talent on it — Aaron Gordon, Evan Fournier, Nikola Vucevic, maybe Elfrid Payton — and a quality coach in place with Frank Vogel. That said the talent on the roster does not fit and Orlando desperately needed someone willing to shake things up, who wasn’t too invested in “their guys” to realize the roster’s serious shortcomings.

McHale could do that. It looks like we are a month or more from finding out, however, as Griffin isn’t going anywhere until after the Cavaliers season — which likely extends into June. If the Magic are serious about him, this process is going to drag out.

Joel Embiid was hanging out with Philly fans at the NFL Draft

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Joel Embiid is a man of the people.

And last night the people in Philadelphia were all Eagles fans, watching the NFL Draft unfold.

Embiid was out there with them. Literally.

Ben Simmons was there as well with Embiid, according to CSNPhilly.com.

Philadelphia fans can only hope the Eagles draft as well — and have WAY better injury luck — than the Sixers.

Moving to new arena, Detroit Pistons submit bids to host 2020 or 2021 All-Star Game

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DETROIT (AP) — The Detroit Pistons have put in bids to host a future NBA All-Star Game at Little Caesars Arena.

The team says in a release Friday that bids were submitted to the league for 2020 and 2021.

Little Caesars Arena is being built just north of downtown Detroit and is expected to open this year. It also will be home to the NHL’s Detroit Red Wings.

In November, the Pistons announced the team was moving back to Detroit from The Palace of Auburn Hills.

The city of Detroit last hosted the NBA’s All-Star Game in 1959. The 1979 game was played in Pontiac when the Pistons’ home court was the Silverdome.

NBA All-Star events include the All-Star Game, NBA Rising Stars Challenge, a celebrity game, skills competition and fan events.

PBT Extra: Does Larry Bird stepping down change Paul George question in Indiana?

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When the Woj bomb dropped that Larry Bird was stepping down as president of the Indiana Pacers, two questions came to mind. First was, “Is he healthy?” Reportedly he is, this was not a healthy-related decision. Which is great news.

Second, what does that mean for Paul George?

Is Indiana more likely to trade him now? Less?

George speculation has ramped up around the league and — while no doubt new GM Kevin Pritchard will say he would love to keep PG13 when he speaks to the media — there is a sense Bird walking away could be a sign that the Pacers are moving into rebuilding mode. That said, Pritchard is known for driving a hard bargain, he’s not going DeMarcus Cousins trade here.

I talk about all of that and more in this latest PBT Extra.