Report: Carmelo Anthony told Denver owner face-to-face to trade him, team trying

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Thumbnail image for canthony_arty.jpgCongratulations on the new gig Masai Ujiri, now go trade Carmelo Anthony and make sure you get us a good deal…

Not sure that was the exact welcoming package for the new Denver Nuggets general manager, but a new report says it may not be far off. And apparently the Nets and Clippers are the frontrunners to be the new team for ‘Melo.

Anthony cannot publicly request a trade unless he wants to pay some very steep fines, so everything is handled through back channels. According to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo, the master of back channels — William Wesley — told the Nuggets in no uncertain terms they needed to move the superstar in an extend-and-trade deal. That Anthony was not going to sign the three-year, $65 million extension in front of him.

Wesley is an employee of Creative Artists Agency (CAA), which is also home to Leon Rose, Anthony’s agent. That Wesley did this was long rumored, but not confirmed.

It would explain why soon-to-be owner Josh Kroenke flew out to meet face-to-face with Anthony last weekend. Again, the answer was “trade me or lose me” according to the report.

This wasn’t a productive, nor particularly pleasant, meeting and multiple sources said it could turn out to be the point of no return for Anthony and the organization. Sources insist it’s no longer a matter of if the Nuggets trade Anthony, but when, where and for whom he’s traded for.

“It’s almost a given they’re going to move him,” said a front-office executive who’s talked with the Nuggets and Anthony’s agents with CAA.

Anthony allegedly gave the Nuggets a list of teams where he would sign an extend-and-trade deal. Then owner Stan Kroenke — father of Josh and the man just approved to be owner of the St. Louis Rams — told CAA to stop dictating the terms of the deal or he would personally never deal with a CAA player again and would not trade Anthony before the season ended.

The two sides will need to come to some compromise here. While theoretically the Nuggets could trade him anywhere they wanted, no team is going to make an expensive one-year rental of Anthony, they will want him to sign the extension as part of the trade. If Anthony doesn’t sign, the deal would be dead. However the Nuggets could hold on to Anthony and not trade him, likely costing Anthony tens of millions of dollars on his next contract (under a new, likely much stricter collective bargaining agreement).

Both teams have some leverage here. They are going to have to learn to play nice.

The reports says the Nets and Clippers are the front runners because they can provide young players and draft picks to the Nuggets, who would need those things to rebuild. Both also are major media centers that would likely appeal to Anthony’s new bride, actress LaLa Vasquez.

The Nets are now owned by Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov, and are playing for two seasons in Newark while a new arena is built in Brooklyn. The team has a good young core, a new coach in Avery Johnson and a new attitude.

It would be interesting to see if Anthony would sign an extension to play for the Clippers. On paper, they have a ton of potential, good young players looking for a star to lead them. But would Anthony trust the prime of his career to owner Donald Sterling?

Lots of questions, but apparently we will get the answer sooner, not later.

MVP James Harden, dominant Rockets show up in second half, crush Timberwolves

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We had to wait three-and-a-half games for it.

We had seen James Harden play like an MVP all season. We had seen the Rockets bury threes at a record rate all season. We had seen Houston’s switching defense impress all season (sixth best in the NBA). We had seen Houston rack up 65 wins and make it look easy.

Then we got to the playoffs and the Rockets couldn’t put it all together at once. Harden struggled after Game 1, including going 0-of-7 in the first quarter Monday night. The defense was inconsistent and the threes were not falling. All of it let the Timberwolves hang around in the series — down 2-1 — and the same in Game 4, down just a point at halftime.

Then the Harden and Rockets we all expected showed up.

Houston put up 50 points in the third quarter alone, shooting 61 percent overall and 9-of-13 from three, plus they got to the line 13 times and made every shot. The Rockets opened the second half on an 11-0 run that extended all the way to 25-4, with almost all of the damage from Harden, who had 22 in the quarter.

The Rockets pulled away and cruised from there to an easy 119-100 win.

“We hit the switch, the switch we’ve been trying to hit since the beginning of the playoffs on both ends of the floor,” Harden said postgame. “It’s pretty scary what we’re capable of when defensively we’re locked in like that, and offensively we got rolling.”

Houston now leads the series 3-1 and can close it out at home in Game 5 Wednesday night.

In the first half this looked nothing like something that would end with a comfortable Rockets win. Houston struggled at the start of Game 4, opening 0-of-5 in the paint, including Harden missing an open layup. As a team, the Rockets started the game 4-of-16 from three, and a lot of those were uncontested looks. The Rockets play a lot of isolation, but even for them the ball seemed to stick in the first half. If not for Trevor Ariza knocking down three from beyond the arc, the Timberwolves might have been able to pull away.

The fact they didn’t was a blown opportunity for the Timberwolves, something they just can’t do in this series. It was a one-point Rockets lead, 50-49, at the half.

Minnesota had some moments on offense in the game, usually when attacking quickly off the Rockets switch. Derrick Rose had some moments and finished the game with 17 points. Karl-Anthony Towns had 22 points and 15 rebounds, Jimmy Butler had 19 points on 17 shots.

But that was no match for the Rockets when they flipped the switch.

It was a barrage of threes that we have waited for all season, and it all started with Harden and Chris Paul, they had all of the first 15 points of the second half for Houston. Harden finished with 36 points and hit 5-of-11 from three. CP3 had 25 points and six assists, Eric Gordon finally woke up in this series with 18, and Ariza finished with 15.

Minnesota is a talented team, but they are learning fast what a contender can do — even not at their peak the Rockets had taken two of the first three in the series, and when they did flip the switch it was another level. A level the Timberwolves want to get to, there are just some rough lessons along the road to getting there.

James Harden puts on show to start second half vs. Timberwolves

Associated Press
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James Harden started Game 4 0-of-7 from the floor, including missing a lay-up. It was an extension of Game 3, and it let the Timberwolves hang around for a half despite their own offensive woes.

Then in the second half the MVP Harden showed up.

Houston started the second half on an 11-0 run that extended all the way to 25-4, and a lot of it was Harden (with a little help from Chris Paul). Harden had 22 points in the third (with 4:30 left in the quarter). After a couple rough games the Timberwolves were going under the pick when Harden had the ball, and suddenly he made them pay.

Or, he was just stepping back.

With all the buckets the Rockets turned a close game into a 25 point lead.

Tyronn Lue doesn’t hold back with retort to heckling Pacers’ fan

Associated Press
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It’s a part of the NBA experience that most fans don’t get to hear — some fans courtside heckling opposing players and coaches, and those guys occasionally firing back. We only tend to hear about it when things cross a line.

Sometimes the interactions are just funny, such as this one passed along by J. Michael of the Indy Star.

Well played, Lue.

Although is Cleveland really a city at the forefront of fashion? Well, I suppose if you went to college in Nebraska…

Report: Pelicans picked up Alvin Gentry’s option for next season before sweep

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Last summer the buzz was all over the league: Pelicans GM Dell Demps and coach Alvin Gentry were given a “playoffs or bust” mandate by management. If the Pelicans were not in the postseason — and just barely getting in and then blown out in the first round might be good enough — there was going to be a housecleaning.

The Pelicans made the playoffs as the six seed with 48 wins despite losing DeMarcus Cousins to a torn Achilles midway through the season.

That alone was good enough to get Gentry another season in New Orleans, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.

As noted, this happened before the Pelicans swept the Trail Blazers out of the first round and into a summer of re-evaluation. This option season is the last of Gentry’s original deal with the Pelicans.

Gentry has the Pelicans playing fast, using the elite defense of Anthony Davis and Jrue Holiday to get stops, and right now Davis is leading an offense that is just getting it done, with guys such as Nikola Mirotic stepping up. Gentry has earned another year, and a shot to integrate Cousins into this style and level of play, to see where that could take New Orleans next season.

It will be interesting to see if Demps can add more shooting and versatility with a capped out roster.