Apparently Camelo Anthony doesn't want a title, just wants out


Thumbnail image for CAnthony_stares.jpgThe trading of Carmelo Anthony before the start of the season has gone from “if” to “where and for whom” if we are to believe the latest reports. And we do, as all signs point that way and have for a while.

But from the list of possible trading partners out there — both the ones preferred by Anthony and the ones the Nuggets ownership has forced into the conversation — it is clear that winning a title is not why Anthony is doing this.

From what we can gather and other reports, the list of teams Anthony is interested in includes New York, Orlando, Chicago, Houston and New Jersey. The Nuggets want young players and picks, so they have brought the Clippers and Golden State to the party.

Who on that list is closer to winning a title than the Nuggets? None, really. Unless Anthony thinks he can draw Chris Paul to wherever he lands to form a new superteam, which is a pretty big gambit. But he gets no closer to a title with any realistic move right now.

Maybe Orlando would be a contender. But they would have to get past Miami and Boston in the East (and Chicago is pretty good, too). And while Boston will fade Miami is going to be a powerhouse — an only improving powerhouse — for the next five years. While the Lakers are a power in Denver’s way in the West, their window is shorter.

In the west Houston makes some sense — if you think Yao Ming can stay healthy and ignore how good the Lakers are. Getting Anthony would recreate the concepts behind the McGrady/Yao pairing that never quite panned out. And the Rockets could offer a nice package in a trade of something like Jordan Hill, Chase Budinger, plus they have something the Knicks do not — Knicks draft picks. The Rockets could offer up their own 2011 pick (which comes with the right to flip with New York) and the Knicks 2012 pick.

Anthony allegedly pushed for New York but the Nuggets see no sense in that because what can the Knicks really offer? The expiring contract of Eddy Curry, somebody like Wilson Chandler and picks in 2014 and 2016? Not enticing.

The Clippers are considered frontrunners and they certainly could put together a package of nice young players. Chris Kaman would be a big salary piece but Eric Bledsoe and maybe even Eric Gordon could be part of the package, along with picks. But do not think Blake Griffin will be part of the deal, the Clippers are too invested in him.

This also is where cooperation comes in — would Anthony really do a sign-and-trade to the Clippers? Would he trust the prime of his career to Donald Sterling? Anthony and the Clippers need to be on the same page here.

The Nets may make the most sense. They are soon to be New York, they have young players like Devin Harris, Anthony Morrow, the big contract of Troy Murphy could be part of the deal. What the Nets would want is to keep Brook Lopez and rookie Derrick Favors to pair with Anthony, in what could be a very good combo going forward.

But with the Heat looming in the East, is that closer to a title than Denver right now? No.

Which makes me think more and more that winning is not the primary motivation here.

Cavaliers beat Raptors, become first team in 27 years to surrender 79 first-half points and win

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The Cavaliers haven’t been good enough throughout the season, especially defensively. The Raptors have – offensively, defensively, starters, bench. Hope has grown in Toronto of winning the Eastern Conference after getting eliminated by Cleveland the last two years.

But LeBron James and Cavs showed why it’s hard to pick any other team – even the first-place Raptors – to win the East in a 132-129 win over Toronto tonight.

Cleveland allowed 79 first-half points and fell behind by 15. But a LeBron-led offense was just too potent. This was the first time since 1990 (Nuggets over Spurs after trailing 90-83) a team surrendered so many first-half points then still won.

LeBron finished with 35 points, 17 assists and no turnovers. No forward has ever dished so many assists without a turnover in Basketball-Reference’s database, which dates back to 1963-64.

And LeBron led the Cavaliers to this win despite Tristan Thompson, Rodney Hood, Larry Nance Jr., Kyle Korver and Cedi Osman being out.

It’s only one game, and it was in Cleveland. But even with home-court advantage in a potential playoff series, the Raptors must grapple with even more lingering doubt now about their ability to beat the Cavs.

Report: Becky Hammon staying with Spurs, not coaching Colorado State men’s team

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Spurs assistant coach Becky Hammon was a candidate to coach the men’s team at Colorado State, her alma mater. That would have made her the first woman to coach a Division I men’s team.

Alas, it won’t happen.

Pat Forde of Yahoo Sports:

It’s unclear whether Hammon was ever actually offered the job.

She’s still on the right track for a head-coaching job somewhere. Most importantly, by all accounts, she’s doing good work in San Antonio. There’s also more attention on her career because of her pioneering status, and that will appeal to some teams.

This dalliance with Colorado State raises her profile even further and shows just how close she is.

Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni: James Harden ‘best offensive player I’ve ever seen’

AP Photo/Jack Dempsey

James Harden torched a solid Trail Blazers defense for 42 points on 13-of-25 shooting, including 5-of-7 on 3-pointers, and seven assists.

That prompted his coach to heap praise on the runaway MVP.

Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni, via Tim MacMahon of ESPN:

“That’s the best offensive player I’ve ever seen,” Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni said of Harden. “They’re running guys to him and he just steps a little further back and makes a 3. The way he can pass and see the floor, get layups, floaters, maybe a lob, maybe out to the corner — he has so many weapons, and now he’s shooting those step-back 3s.

“It’s impossible to guard him. It’s impossible.”

At first, that sounds like hyperbole from a biased source. But Harden might actually the best offensive player ever. (D’Antoni has been around for all the major contenders.)

Michael Jordan gets overlooked because he was also excellent defensively. Ditto LeBron James to a lesser extent. Another contender: Stephen Curry, whose Warriors might file away D’Antoni’s assessment for if they meet Houston in the playoffs. (The Rockets provide plenty of motivational fodder.)

The list of contenders definitely skews toward the present. Players have gotten progressively more skilled, especially the generation that grew up with the 3-point arc and didn’t suddenly have to adjust to it.

And Harden might be the cream of the crop. He’s an incredible shooter with very deep range off the dribble or spotting up, and he can drive with the best of them. Yes, foul-drawing is a skill. Harden’s combination of scoring volume and efficiency is unprecedented. He’s also an impressive passer, a skill fully unleashed by D’Antoni making Harden a point guard.

I think I’d lean toward Curry, who’s an even better shooter and screener. But it’s very close, and Harden keeps raising his level. Curry probably peaked two years ago (though he obviously remains elite). I definitely wouldn’t dismiss anyone who picks Harden as biased or misguided.

Cavaliers star LeBron James: Raptors ‘in a better place than we are right now’

Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press via AP

It’s not enough to say the Raptors have the Eastern Conference’s best record.

The Celtics had the East’s best record last year, and most people thought the Cavaliers were better. Cleveland had a better point difference and more star power – LeBron James, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love – than Boston. The Cavs confirmed that notion by cruising past the Celtics in a five-game conference finals.

The Raptors have been the Eastern Conference’s best team this season.

They rank fourth in the NBA in offensive and defensive rating, the only team top five in both categories. Led by DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry, their starting lineup has embraced a more dynamic offense with more 3-point shooting and passing. Toronto’s bench is the best in the league.

LeBron, whose Cavaliers host the Raptors tonight, via Joe Vardon of

“They’re in a better place than we are right now because they’ve had more consistency and they’ve had their guys in the lineup for the majority of the year,” James said after the Cavs’ morning workout. “So, they know what they want to accomplish. They know who they are at this point in the season. Obviously, you guys know about us, we’re still trying to figure that out.”

This is so obviously correct. It’s just surprising to see LeBron put it so directly, though it’s unsurprising he’s hanging on the Cavs’ instability to date.

Kevin Love and Isaiah Thomas were injured for long stretches, and Thomas and several others were traded. Coach Tyronn Lue is on a leave of absence.

But the Cavaliers made those major trades because they were struggling, and this new group won’t necessarily simply figure things out with time. Defensive problems persist. Lue’s health is unclear.

LeBron understandably remains confident in himself, even as the Cavs enter the postseason as a middling seed. He’s also setting up a narrative of Cleveland coming from behind if it advances to the NBA Finals. We’ll see whether it happens.

Tonight likely won’t be a referendum, though. Tristan Thompson, Rodney Hood, Kyle Korver and Larry Nance Jr. are out for the Cavaliers. That roster instability still exists.

If LeBron dials up playoff intensity tonight, that could send a warning to Toronto, though I’m not sure it’s necessary. As far ahead as the Raptors are right now, after Cleveland soundly eliminated them the last two years, I think everyone knows it’s a couple months too early to properly assess these teams’ relative places.