General Managers predict Durant as MVP over LeBron, Lakers three-peat


Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Durant_dunk.jpgYou’re not the only one who thinks there will be voter fatigue — or backlash, if you wish — against LeBron James when it comes time for MVP voting.

General managers around the NBA seem to think so, according to the results published at TrueHoop. In its annual survey of GMs, found one just one vote for LeBron James to three-peat as MVP. One. Same as Dwight Howard. Kevin Durant was the runaway winner with two-thirds of the vote.

Durant may well be MVP (he’s my pick) and he will be deserving — he was the league’s leading scorer last year and the clear leader on an up-and-coming team that could make the next step this season.

But James is the two-time, clear winner MVP and now will be the best player on one of the best teams in the league.

The fact that just one GM (can I guess Pat Riley?) voted for James speaks more the James burnout than anything. Around the league teams are tired (and a little jealous) of all the Heat talk. They want to knock them off the perch.

Those same GMs think the Lakers will — 63 percent predict a three-peat for the Lakers. The Heat got one-thirds of the votes, the Celtics got one vote.

Other votes include:

* John Wall got 68 percent of the vote as the likely Rookie of the Year, with Clippers’ Blake Griffin second.

* Deron Williams got half the vote to be named best point guard over Chris Paul, the first time D-Will has beat CP3.

* For the first time in eight years, Tim Duncan was not named best power forward. Dirk Nowitzki and Pau Gasol tied for that honor.

* As you would expect, Dwight Howard was the best center running away, LeBron the best small forward and Kobe the best two guard. Kobe also won the vote for guy you most want taking the last shot, for the ninth straight year.

* Derrick Rose was voted fastest with the ball, Ray Allen the best pure shooter.

* The most fun team to watch according to GMs? The Oklahoma City Thunder. They got that one right.

Gallinari ready to take big role in new Nuggets offense

Danilo Gallinari, Jimmy Butler
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DENVER (AP) — Danilo Gallinari wants everyone to know this: His surgically repaired left knee, the one that took three procedures to fix and nearly two seasons to fully trust, no longer bothers him.

The Denver Nuggets forward doesn’t need to be on any sort of minutes restriction. He doesn’t need days off during the season. And he certainly doesn’t need to be coddled.

He’s Gallo again, the hard-to-guard Italian playmaker who can knock down the 3-pointer just as easily as drive to the hoop or even post up. He believes he will fit in quite nicely into new coach Michael Malone’s system.

“The thing I’m focused on is trying to get (this team) back to the same level that the Nuggets were when I got to Denver, when we were going to the playoffs easy. When we were clinching a playoff one or two weeks before the season was over,” said Gallinari, who was acquired in the 2011 blockbuster deal that sent Carmelo Anthony to the New York Knicks. “We need to get back to that level.”

Almost seems so long ago, given that the Nuggets have missed the playoffs two straight seasons after consistently making it for nearly a decade.

Gallinari returned last season for the first time since blowing out his knee in a game on April 4, 2013. His minutes were closely monitored early in the season. He never really got completely on track until late last season, when he averaged 20.5 points over the final 10 contests, including a career-high 47 against Dallas. He’s hoping to carry that kind of confidence this season.

“I’m good to go. I was good to go as soon as the beginning of last year,” Gallinari said. “I was not on the same page with the coach that we had.”

That would be Brian Shaw, who was fired last March after 1 1/2 seasons in charge and going 56-85. Exactly why he wasn’t on the same page with Shaw, well, Gallinari preferred the past remain the past.

“I’m ready to play the new season,” he said. “We need to win games, and get back to the same level we were before.”

Gallinari thinks the Nuggets have the personnel to do just that, especially with a rookie point guard in Emmanuel Mudiay and Gallinari’s knee feeling better than it has in a while. He feels like he has some ground to make up, too, since he said that knee robbed him of some of his prime.

“Playing my best basketball right before I got injured,” the 27-year old said. “Now, we’re back to the same level, hopefully better.

“My knee has been feeling great. It felt great last year. Feeling great during the summer. Feeling great now. I just feel good.”

He spent the summer playing for the Italian team at the EuroBasket tournament, where he averaged nearly 18 points a game. In those games, Gallinari saw quite a bit of time at the four spot on the floor, forcing teams to either use a bulkier big man to cover him and risk getting burned on a drive or a smaller player that Gallinari could simply shoot over.

Malone plans to employ a similar type approach, something they discussed over gelato when the coach visited Gallinari in Italy soon after he was hired.

“He’s 6-foot-10. He can handle the ball. He can play pick-and-roll. He can stretch the floor and shoot the 3,” Malone said. “There’s not a lot he can’t do offensively.”

Gallinari wants the responsibility of being the go-to player for the Nuggets this season, especially at crunch time.

“I’ve always been trying to do that, since I came to Denver,” Gallinari said. “That’s what I like to do. I feel good filling those shoes.

“I want to have the ball in my hands. I do want to have the ball in my hands a lot more.”

Knicks’ Rookie Jerian Grant gets up, throws it down (VIDEO)

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The Knicks did well trading for Jerian Grant on date night — he’s going to be able to walk in this year and play quality minutes off the bench.

And, he can get up and throw it down.

Carmelo Anthony had 18 points to lead the Knicks to a 94-88 win over the Sixers.