Carmelo Anthony rumors update (please bring plenty of salt)

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Thumbnail image for carmello.anthony.2.jpgThere are almost more rumors about Carmelo Anthony out there than there are people laughing at David Hasselhoff after last night. Almost.

We’re going to talk about some key ones, but first we start with the trade rumor primer, just as a reminder: Every leaked rumor has a motive behind it. Nobody at this stage is telling any journalist something because they think the public should know (or because they like him or her), it’s because they want to put some pressure on someone in the negotiations. Say something to get another side to either up the offer or back off. Just read every rumor through that prism.

The one thing that seems consistent across all the chatter — this is not going to happen fast. Not before camp opens, maybe not before the season opens. Although that is a change from 24 hours ago, so who knows. Still, might want to get comfortable, we could be at this a while.

ESPN’s well plugged in Chris Broussard (remember he was in the mix on LeBron to Miami) said in a series of tweets:

Rt now looks like Den will bring Melo to camp unless someone blows it away with a trade offer.

Nuggets hope a hot start will convince Melo to stay – or maybe they can trade for another star that will keep Melo in Den.

In meantime, Den will keep listening to offers. Nuggets wanted Lopez from NJ, but Nets know they got no chance of keeping Melo w/out Brook.

We should say it is possible Anthony remains in Denver, but that is not what anyone we’ve spoken with thinks will be the likely outcome. The league seems to expect a trade.

There is no way that New Jersey will or should throw Brook Lopez in the trade mix — one-on-one Anthony is a better player than Lopez but you need both to really build something. And the Nets are building. There also are questions if Anthony would sign there anyway.

The Rockets are talking to Denver but Kevin Martin is not part of the discussion, according to Sam Amick of FanHouse. If he’s not in, I’m not sure what Houston really can offer that Denver would want aside the Knicks first round pick (something the Knicks could really use themselves).

The Nets reportedly offered No. 3 pick Derrick Favors, Troy Murphy and picks. Which sounds like the best offer, if it is real.

The other rumor out there — from Broussard and multiple other sources including the New York Times — is that the Bulls are out because they will not put in both Luol Deng and Joakim Noah. Nor should they — you would need Noah’s defense at the rim to cover for the iffy defense of Boozer and Melo anyway.

Denver is apparently asking for a lot right now. And they should. It’s early in the game and there is no real pressure — they can bring Anthony to camp, he’ll say he’s not talking about it and then it will be a moderate distraction (sort of like it was for the Cavaliers last season). Maybe Anthony will change his mind.

But that pressure will build — the Nuggets know if Melo will not sign an extension in Denver they have to move him, and as things get closer to the trading deadline teams are more likely to lowball, knowing Denver has to make a move.

Anthony wants an extension under this CBA, which would likely mean an additional $10 million or more than what he can get next summer. Denver doesn’t want to decimate the franchise. It’s one big game of chicken, but it’s early and nobody is close to blinking yet.

Thunder drop 148 points on defenseless Cavaliers, win in rout

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If you wondered why Cleveland is so active in the trade market as the deadline nears — and why they are hunting out guys who can play defense — all you had to do was watch the Thunder dismantle the Cavaliers on Saturday afternoon on national television, 148-124.

The Thunder went into Quicken Loans Arena and list of offensive accolades is long (and ugly if you’re a Cleveland fan):

• Oklahoma City dropped 148 points.

• Oklahoma City shot 58 percent overall.

• Oklahoma City shot 46.7 percent from three.

• Oklahoma City got 44 percent of its shots within four feet of the rim.

• Oklahoma City’s big three of Russell Westbrook, Carmelo Anthony, and Paul George combined for 88 points.

• Westbrook had 23 points and 20 assists.

• Paul George had 36 points on 12-of-19 shooting.

Steven Adams had 25 points and 10 rebounds.

• Westbrook, George, Adams, and Anthony combined for 113 points on 66 shots.

To be fair, this was also about the Thunder playing one of their most complete offensive games of the season. They moved the ball beautifully, there wasn’t the “your turn/my turn” issues from earlier this season.

For a team still unsure of its identity and looking for validation, this game provided it.

It also provided another glimpse into the troubles in Cleveland.

Last season the Cavaliers counted on an exceptional offense to cover up for a defense that was decent when they cared and horrific when they didn’t, but when it got time in the playoffs Cleveland was able to flip the switch (it just wasn’t enough in the Finals). LeBron James has another gear and was able to lift his teammates up with it.

This season, they don’t seem to know where the switch is. The good defensive habits they had built over time seem lost and forgotten, as they run out a litany of minus defenders in their regular rotation.

Cleveland looks like a team that needs help at the trade deadline to ensure it gets out of the East. The question becomes will they throw in the Brooklyn pick to do it? And even if they did, would DeAndre Jordan really solve their issues right now?

 

Giannis Antetokounmpo out a couple of games to manage sore knee

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It’s not discussed much, but Giannis Antetokounmpo has a chronically sore knee that has been an issue since last summer. It’s not debilitating, it doesn’t require surgery, but it’s something Antetokounmpo and the Bucks need to actively manage.

Hence, Antetokounmpo is sitting out the next couple of games. From Matt Velazquez of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:

Milwaukee Bucks all-star Giannis Antetokounmpo will sit out Saturday night’s game against the Philadelphia 76ers as well as Monday’s home game against the Phoenix Suns as the team actively manages the health of Antetokounmpo’s sore right knee….

Antetokounmpo’s injury, which is not considered to be tendinitis, is regarded as something that is always going to bother him to some extent, according to a league source. There will be days where the discomfort is higher and some when it’s lower, and the team’s goal is to manage that on a daily basis to keep the injury from becoming severe or significant — something it is not considered to be at this point.

Antetokounmpo is going to get eight days of rest this way, which is the smart long-term move for the Bucks.

The challenge is the Bucks may be sixth in the East as you read this, but they are just one game up on the nine seed Pistons. They need to get wins without Antetokounmpo, which is hard because they have been outscored by 10.6 points per 100 possessions. However, they could be without him a lot longer if Antetokounmpo’s knee isn’t managed now.

Kristaps Porzingis: “Players know” he’s All-Star starter

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When picking the East All-Star starters, two of the three frontcourt choices were obvious: LeBron James and Giannis Antetokounmpo.

For the third slot there were a few players who could make a case. The fans chose Joel Embiid third, Kristaps Porzingis fourth, and Kevin Love fifth. The media also had Embiid third and Porzingis fourth, but Al Horford fifth. That was enough to earn Embiid the starting nod.

The players voted Porzingis third, Embiid fourth, and Andre Drummond fifth. Needless to say, Porzingis thinks the players got it right, as he told Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News.

“Players know,” he said. “That’s all I’m going to say.”

If one were cynical, one would note the players also voted for Tyler Cavanaugh and Tyler Zeller, so how much do we trust their vote? Fortunately, we’re above such crass things.

Porzingis is a lock to make his first All-Star Game this year as a reserve (picked by the coaches).

What separated the two? Embiid has been a little more efficient this season, he’s stronger on the boards and had been a bigger defensive presence. Also, the Sixers have a better record than the Knicks, who have stumbled of late. Or, maybe the fans just like Embiid’s big personality more — he’s blowing off Rihanna.

Both of these guys should have a lot of All-Star starts in their future. This year it goes to Embiid.

 

Lakers make 14% of their free throws, win

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Jordan Clarkson‘s free throw rattled around the rim before falling out late in the first quarter. The Los Angeles crowd groaned. The Lakers missed their first five free throws, and the visiting Pacers led by seven.

It appeared to be one of those nights.

And it was. The Lakers shot just 2-for-14 (14%) on free throws Friday. But they still won, 99-86.

That’s the worst free-throw percentage with at least eight attempts by any team and the worst free-throw percentage regardless of attempts by a winning team in the Basketball-Reference database, which dates back to 1963-64.

Here’s the “leaderboard,” winners in purple and losers in gold:

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The Lakers are shooting an NBA-worst 69% on free throws, but last night took the cake. The offenders: