Kenyon Martin is still waiting to be impressed

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kenyon_martin.jpgHow long can the Denver Nuggets honestly claim to be on the brink of contention? There is some room for natural improvement — having George Karl back should help, more playing time for Ty Lawson would go a long way, etc. — but this team is essentially the same as it was last year. And last year’s team the same as the season prior. There is little growth, little development, and little hope. The Nuggets are who the Nuggets were, and while that’s fine, it isn’t bringing home a trophy.

Carmelo Anthony apparently knows this, but don’t think he’s the only one. You can see it in the players’ body language, in between the lines of their quotes, and sometimes, laid out rather explicitly. Take this Kenyon Martin bit, for instance, courtesy of Benjamin Hochman of the Denver Post:

Asked about Anthony’s mind-set, Martin said the uncertainty surrounding the franchise has to be on his mind.

“Personally, my thinking is — I can’t see where we got better this
summer. Al (Harrington, a free-agent signing) is cool, Al’s my man, but
I can’t see how we got better. You know, I’m going to be out and
(Andersen) is going to be out (to start the season), so did we get
better? I can’t say that we did.”

Kenyon’s right. One mid-level exception later, all Denver has to show for their off-season is a 30 year-old shooting big with a knack for disappearing defensively. That’s the bounty that’s supposed to vault Denver into contention? That’s the piece that’s supposed to entice Carmelo Anthony to take off his shoes and stay awhile?

Not all of Danny Ferry’s moves with the Cavaliers worked out, but he tried. He made all kinds of trades and signings to put a solid core around LeBron James. Some worked and some didn’t, but that activity does mean something. The Nuggets aren’t going anywhere. They’re waiting on an impossibility, and Carmelo Anthony seems a bit tired of it.

Obviously the management situation in Denver is a bit more complex than it ever was in Cleveland, but the point goes well beyond this summer. Denver has needed to make moves for well over a year now, and couldn’t pull the trigger. I’m not blaming anyone with the Nuggets organization for failing to pull a rabbit out of a hat, but something has to come out of that hat for Carmelo to change his mind, even if it’s just a carrot.


After two years off court, Joel Embiid says he “probably” will have minutes restrictions

PHILADELPHIA, PA - OCTOBER 30: Joel Embiid #21 of the Philadelphia 76ers takes a shot from the bench prior to the game against the Utah Jazz on October 30, 2015 at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. 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 Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
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Joel Embiid could be the best player on the Philadelphia 76ers in a couple of years — many scouts had him the highest rated of all the first-round draft picks the Sixers have had in recent seasons.

But after two foot surgeries and two seasons sitting on the sidelines, we don’t know how good Embiid can be. We should find out starting in October when Embiid is part of the Sixers training camp. Embiid says he feels 100 percent, but he expects there will be restrictions on him at first, he told Jessica Camerato of CSNPhilly.com during the Sixers Beach Bash community event this weekend.

This is the smart move by the Sixers — they are not competing for a title, the games in November have minimal meaning long term, bring him along slowly and make sure he can make each step along the way. Let’s see what he can do, then worry about how much run he can get in games that matter.

It’s going to be interesting to watch how Embiid, Ben Simmons, Nerlens Noel, and Jahlil Okafor all fit together up front — and which one of them gets traded this season.

Celtics’ Avery Bradley on defense: “Kyrie Irving, none of those guys scare me”

BOSTON, MA - MARCH 09:  Avery Bradley #0 of the Boston Celtics celebrates after scoring against the Memphis Grizzlies  during the first quarter at TD Garden on March 9, 2016 in Boston, Massachusetts.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 Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
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Avery Bradley was first-team NBA All-Defensive team last season, and his coach Brad Stevens lobbied for him to get the honor. Bradley picks up guys full court, pesters, and plays physical — we can debate if he is as good defensively as his reputation, but guys like Damian Lillard think he’s tough to go up against.

Bradley, for his part, says he has no fear going up against the best. Here is what he said to Tom Westerholm of Masslive.com.

“I love the challenge,” Bradley said on Friday, making an appearance at the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. “I love going up against the best players. I don’t care who it is. I don’t care about getting embarrassed. I don’t care. Kyrie Irving, none of those guys scare me. I know some players in the NBA probably get butterflies before the game, but not me. I’m licking my lips. I come excited. They need to prepare for me at the end of the day. That’s how I think.”

That’s exactly the attitude you want an elite defender to have.

Bradley injured his hamstring in the first game of the playoffs last April and sat the rest of the Celtics’ one series. Then this summer his name came up in potential Jimmy Butler trade rumors (that deal never actually came close to getting off the ground). Expect Bradley to put that all behind him by the time training camp opens.

Watch highlights of LeBron James’ playoffs, Finals run

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LeBron James was dominant — the clear best player on the planet — when the Cleveland Cavaliers needed him most. That’s the reason Cleveland got its first major sports title in 52 years.

It’s the dead part of the NBA season — training camps don’t even open for a month — so why not enjoy a look back at LeBron’s amazing run to a legacy-defining NBA ring. Like you don’t have 15 minutes for this. What are you going to do, watch more preseason football?

It’s Joel Embiid’s turn to swat a little kid’s shot (VIDEO)

TARRYTOWN, NY - AUGUST 03: Joel Embiid #11 of the Philadelphia 76ers poses for a portrait during the 2014 NBA rookie photo shoot at MSG Training Center on August 3, 2014 in Tarrytown, New York. 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 Nick Laham/Getty Images)
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It’s a summer tradition — tall NBA players swatting away the shots of young kids at camps/clinics.

Philadelphia’s Joel Embiid has yet to step on an NBA court — this fall, finally? — but he is part of the youth tradition now, destroying this young man at the Sixers Beach Bash event Saturday.

This summer Embiid has arm wrestled Justin Bieber and looked good working out in an empty gym, and to add to that list here is Embiid overpowering an average guy at Beach Bash then throwing it down. The man at least provided a little more resistance than a chair.