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Carmelo Anthony says nice things about Denver, but does that change anything?

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Denver has a good basketball team right now. We were reminded of that last night when they hung with the Lakers in a scoring fest, got good play off the bench (I could swear I saw Al Harrington on help defense) and played enough defense late to hand Los Angeles its first loss. The capacity crowd at the Pepsi Center ate it up. They want to believe.

But the cloud of Carmleo Anthony’s trade demands loomed over the night. It looms over everything with the Nuggets.

Anthony keeps saying the right things publicly, and that includes Thursday. That doesn’t really change the bottom line, the underlying issues are the same, but he says the right things.

For one, he tried to diffuse the talk around Chris Paul’s toast back in July at Anthony’s wedding a toast that included the thought of Anthony and CP3 joining Amar’e Stoudemire in New York. From Chris Tomasson at FanHouse:

“It was at my wedding,” Anthony said. “Everybody was having fun. The Miami Heat thing was the hot topic at that point in time. There were a lot of guys, a lot of players there, just laughing and joking about it. It is what it is. … It wasn’t set up. It wasn’t staged or anything like that. It was just everybody was having a good time laughing and joking.”

Anthony publically is saying that he wants to keep his options open and Denver is one of those options.

“I think as far as my situation goes or anything, I think (VP of basketball operations) Masai (Ujiri) and (team president) Josh (Kroenke) and myself, we have great communication,” Anthony said. “The lines are open right now between us. If anything is happening, if anything is being said, we sit down and talk about it. So that’s a good thing. Then I can be able to go to them or they come to me. Being that they’re the leaders of this organization and we need to sit down and talk it out.



“What’s going on in my head, they know. They know what’s going on in my head. So, as far as any of that stuff goes, we’re all on the same page.”

Anthony even asked Kobe Bryant for advice, as Kobe told FanHouse.

“I said, ‘Make sure you’re sure about what you want to do,”’ Bryant told FanHouse on Thursday before his Lakers were to face Anthony’s Nuggets at the Pepsi Center. “That’s the only advice I gave him.”

The hype around ‘Melo is going to get ratcheted up in the next week, as the Nuggets host the New York Knicks next Tuesday. You can bet through it all Anthony will keep saying the right things, he’s practiced at it.

But this was never about what Anthony said publicly — the pressure has come from his agent and the people at CAA. It has been done through back channels. And that has not changed either. They continue to say — other teams around the league certainly believe — that Anthony is not going to sign that three-year, $65 million extension with Denver. That Denver knows it and that they will have to move him or risk being Cleveland and Toronto.

Ujiri and Kronke have been the ones to move slowly, patiently on this. Hoping they can change Anthony’s mind, waiting for better offers to come in. Denver is not moving quickly on this, not yet anyway.

Nothing has really changed. There has been — and there will be in the next week — a lot of talk about Anthony in Denver, Anthony on the trade block. But the song remains the same. The extension sits unsigned. Anthony speaks of loving Denver but keeping his options open. Behind the scenes his people push for a trade to New York or Chicago. Denver’s front office is patient and cautious. All the way things have been for months.

Things are going to have to change at some point, maybe after Dec. 15 with signings from this summer can be moved. But right now, it’s status quo.

Corey Brewer: “James (Harden) is going to play defense this year”

HOUSTON, TX - MARCH 18:  James Harden #13 of the Houston Rockets walks across the court during their game against the Minnesota Timberwolves at the Toyota Center on March 18, 2016 in Houston, Texas.  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 Scott Halleran/Getty Images)
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James Harden‘s defense is not as bad as its reputation.

Well, at least it wasn’t two seasons ago — his near MVP season he was in good enough shape that he could put in a respectable effort on that end and still handle his massive offensive load. There were still some mental lapses, but his focus was better and his improvement lifted the team defense. Last season, he regressed back to youtube “highlight” defense Harden — his conditioning was not where it needed to be, he didn’t expend as much effort on that end, and it showed.

Harden got a massive contract extension this summer, and Dwight Howard is Atlanta’s problem — now Harden has to lead the Rockets. By example. Corey Brewer told ESPN you’re going to see that on defense.

“I think this year he’s going to play better defense, We’re going to let the past be in the past. It’s the future of the Rockets, man. James is going to play defense this year.”

We’re all Missourians on this one: Show me.

Remember that the Rockets will be out and running — Mike D’Antoni is the coach now, and Daryl Morey is going to get the up tempo ball he wants (which Kevin McHale had them doing, but Harden didn’t like him so…). D’Antoni’s teams in Phoenix played better defense than their reputation — points per possession they were middle of the pack — but that has never been his focus.

Will Harden be able to run like he needs to on offense and still defend at a reasonable level?

If he can, it’s a big step toward the Rockets being a dangerous team in the West because if he does it others will follow. Otherwise, every Rockets game will be a shootout, which is entertaining but not going to get a team deep into the playoffs.

 

Watch Drake hit a half court shot while doing a situp

TORONTO, ON - APRIL 26:  Singer Drake celebrates after Terrance Ross #31 of the Toronto Raptors sinks a 3-pointer in the second half of Game Five of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals against the Indiana Pacers during the 2016 NBA Playoffs at the Air Canada Centre on April 26, 2016 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.  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 Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)
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I can see the questions on Twitter/in the comments already so let me save you some time.

Because it’s summer.

Because it’s Drake (he’s a celebrity and an NBA hanger-on with some quasi-official position with the Raptors).

Because Stephen Curry did it, too.

Because what other hoops are you watching on a late August afternoon?

And besides, you clicked on it. You know you want to see it.

So here it is, Drake, hitting a halfcourt shot while doing a sit up. Enjoy.

FOR THE KIA!!!!! @highlighthub @bleacherreport

A video posted by champagnepapi (@champagnepapi) on

Mario Chalmers says he’s cleared to play

Memphis Grizzlies guard Mario Chalmers moves the ball during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Wednesday, Dec. 23, 2015, in Washington. Chalmers was ejected in the first half. The Wizards won 100-91. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
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Mario Chalmers was thriving with the Grizzlies after a midseason trade from the Heat when a torn Achilles ended his season.

Not the way Chalmers wanted to enter free agency.

Still unsigned, he says he’s progressing.

Chalmers:

Can he go 100%, though? If not, when?

A few teams could use another point guard. If Chalmers shows his health, he belongs in someone’s rotation. But that might require taking a low-paying deal and working his way up from the third point guard spot – or even just onto the regular-season roster.

Report: John Wall ‘rankled’ by James Harden’s high-paying Rockets contract

WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 29: John Wall #2 of the Washington Wizards is defended by James Harden #13 of the Houston Rockets in the second half at Verizon Center on March 29, 2015 in Washington, DC. 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 Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
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Bradley Beal isn’t the only player bothering John Wall.

James Harden – who’s earning a lot of money from the Rockets and adidas – is drawing the ire of the Wizards point guard.

Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer:

One league source familiar with Wall’s state of mind simply put it this way: “Wall’s got jealousy issues. He’s always upset with someone who makes more money than him.”

A front office executive tells The Ringer that Wall was “rankled” after Harden signed a four-year, $118 million extension with the Rockets.

O’Connor also pointed out this line from Nick DePaula of Yahoo Sports on Wall rejected adidas’ offer:

“He wanted Harden money,” a source told The Vertical.

I wonder how Wall feels about Beal’s max contract, which pays much more than Wall’s deal. Wall didn’t like Reggie Jackson, another lesser player, earning the same amount as him.

The union rejecting cap smoothing in light of the new national TV contracts has certainly adversely affected Wall, who locked in long-term just before the salary cap explosion became known. As other players sign huge contracts, he’s stuck on his old-money deal.

Washington could’ve renegotiated and extended Wall’s contract, but it would have been more complicated than Harden’s arrangement. Wall has three years remaining to what was previously two for Harden. How much extra money would the Wizards have paid Wall over the next three years just to get him committed for one more year? Instead, they signed Ian Mahinmi, Andrew Nicholson and Jason Smith.

I’m also unsure Wall would’ve accepted an extension. He doesn’t seem overly happy in Washington, and a raise via renegotiation was coming only if Wall provided something in return – an additional year of team control added to his contract.

And don’t lose track of this: Harden is better than Wall.

I don’t mind Wall monitoring other players’ contracts. That jealousy or whatever you want to call it has driven Wall to become a star NBA player. Whatever motivation works.

But demanding Harden’s deal is unrealistic. The Wizards also ought to be mindful of how Beal’s new contract affects chemistry, but that’s their problem.

Wall’s issue – as a player, not endorser – is primarily theoretical. He’s tied to his current contract, and lesser players will earn more than him due simply to timing. He must find a way to make peace with that.