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: Pelicans to waive Omri Casspi after broken thumb leaves them shorthanded

NEW ORLEANS, LA - FEBRUARY 23:  Omri Casspi #18 of the New Orleans Pelicans warms up before a game against the Houston Rockets at the Smoothie King Center on February 23, 2017 in New Orleans, Louisiana. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)
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In his first game in New Orleans, coach Alvin Gentry threw forward Omri Casspi right into the rotation, and he scored a dozen points.

Casspi also broke his thumb and will be out 4-6 weeks.

Because there is so little time in the season and the Pelicans want to make the playoffs, they have decided to waive Casspi, reports Sams Charania of The Vertical at Yahoo Sports.

The idea is to create a roster spot to either grab someone waived by another team over the next few days or to get players on 10-day contracts.

Casspi will be a free agent this summer, and there are a number of teams that think he has real potential once unleashed outside what was going on in Sacramento.

Hawks sign Ryan Kelly, Lamar Patterson to multiyear deals

ATLANTA, GA - OCTOBER 13:  Tobias Harris #34 of the Detroit Pistons defends against a pass to Ryan Kelly #30 of the Atlanta Hawks at Philips Arena on October 13, 2016 in Atlanta, Georgia.  NOTE TO USER User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
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ATLANTA (AP) — The Atlanta Hawks have signed forward Ryan Kelly and guard Lamar Patterson to multiyear contracts.

Patterson provides depth across the perimeter, including at point guard. He previously signed two 10-day contracts with the team, most recently on Feb. 8. He has averaged 2.3 points in four games.

The 6-foot-11 Kelly has played in nine games with the Hawks after signing Oct. 31.

The Hawks now have their maximum 15 players. They traded forward Mike Scott to the Suns on Thursday, leaving two vacant roster spots.

Kelly and Patterson are expected to be available when the Hawks play Miami on Friday night.

Kevin Durant: Shaq’s constant ripping of JaVale McGee ‘childish’

SPRINGFIELD, MA - SEPTEMBER 09:  Shaquille O'Neal reacts during the 2016 Basketball Hall of Fame Enshrinement Ceremony at Symphony Hall on September 9, 2016 in Springfield, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
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OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — Golden State Warriors center JaVale McGee fired back at Shaquille O’Neal via Twitter after the former star-turned analyst posted on his verified account a disparaging photo of McGee with the words, “America meet Javale “BUM” McGee.”

O’Neal also responded angrily to McGee , saying he would “smack” McGee’s “bum a–.”

Warriors coach Steve Kerr and Kevin Durant backed McGee on Friday, with Durant calling Shaq “childish” while calling out the retired center’s free throw shooting and other flaws in his game during a Hall of Fame NBA career.

Shaq and McGee went back and forth in a heated Twitter spat late Thursday night, when McGee returned to a reserve role for the NBA-best Warriors as starting center Zaza Pachulia returned from an eight-game absence because of a shoulder injury.

Rockets’ GM Daryl Morey on plan for Warriors: Bury them in an avalanche of threes

HOUSTON, TX - JULY 19: Daryl Morey, general manager of the Houston Rockets speaks during a press conference announcing the signing of Jeremy Lin at Toyota Center on July 19, 2012 in Houston, Texas.  (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
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For a couple of seasons now, teams have tried to beat the Golden State Warriors by making the game ugly — slow, grinding, physical, and the opposite of the free-wheeling game they like. Only one team has had any real success with that strategy, and it has LeBron James on it (and even that wouldn’t have been enough if Draymond Green could keep his hands to himself).

So why not beat them at their own game?

That’s what Rockets’ GM Daryl Morey thought when he added Lou Williams to the roster, he said.

There is a sense around the Warriors that the Rockets may be a bigger concern than the Spurs, because Houston can score with them. Don’t confuse that with worry in the Bay Area, they are the best team in the West if healthy, but the Rockets may be the team they face off against in the conference finals.

And if that happens, Lou Williams is going to play a significant role.