Baseline to Baseline Weekend Edition: Knicks Gone Wild

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What you missed this weekend while worrying that your extra virgin olive oil isn’t such a virgin

Celtics 104 Bulls 92 (Friday): I know the Bulls thought they were an elite team. The Celtics, however, are currently the only Eastern team (and maybe the only NBA team) at that level right now. If we’re looking at matchups in a potential playoff series, the fact that Kevin Garnett outright obliterated an admittedly still finding his legs Carlos Boozer is going to jump off the page and smack us around a bit. Derrick Rose is spectacular and his ability to create, then lean away from contact in mid-air gives him what can only be described as special powers against the Celtics. Unfortunately, Shaquille O’Neal has a neater super power: being much, much, much bigger than Joakim Noah and bullying him like Noah skipped a grade then got assigned to the same gym class with the jocks. Boston is outright terrifying at this point. Basically the Celtics are very outright.

Magic 104 Pistons 91 (Friday): Detroit was so bad they lost to an Orlando team that pretty much resembled the extras from “The Walking Dead.”

Milwaukee 96 Magic 85 (Saturday): Milwaukee was so bad they only beat an Orlando team that was only able to suit up 8 players by 11. There was a lot of sneezing. The end.

Bobcats 91 Nets 84 (OT) (Friday): The score was 33-32 at the half. It very well may have been the worst first half in professional basketball history. Here. Let us never speak of it again.

Rockets 127 Grizzlies 111 (Friday): The Rockets looked like they are back!

Bulls 119 Rockets 116 (OT) (Saturday): The Rockets are not back. The Rockets had this game. Had it. Down cold. Lock, stock, and barrel. Then Derrick Rose took over, with a series of whirlish-dervish one-way-back-slash passes and one very killer off-the-dribble three he should never have gotten due to the fact that Houston should have fouled, fouled, and then fouled again up three, I don’t care if Derrick Rose’s three-point reliability is kind of a neat new trick. Luis Scola also pulled off a very impressive Dream Shake impersonation that manages to out-fake I’m pretty sure every Bull on the floor, several on the bench, and a few that are playing overseas. Alas, Houston falls again.

Knicks 100 Hornets 92 (Friday): The Knicks may be back. For Emeka Okafor with all his might, all his improvement, for every way that Chris Paul should dominate Raymond Felton, the Knicks ran roughshod. Amar’e Stoudemire at this point is nearly unstoppable and the Knicks are firing on all cylinders. Chris Paul is strikingly passive in the second halves of games and you have to wonder if the health is all there. The Knicks are creating easy shots for themselves and hard ones for their opponents. The Hornets are in the exact opposite condition.

Knicks 116 Raptors 99 (Sunday): Yup, Knicks are probably back.

Spurs 107 Wolves 101 (Friday): There are meltdowns, there are colossal meltdowns, and then there’s the Wolves in this game. An utter self-demolition as they gave the Spurs an opening, then stood around guffawing as the Spurs hit that fifth gear from nothing. Kevin Love was not good, George Hill was very good, and the Wolves looked like they had absolutely no brain running the body for the last quarter. The Wolves could really have used a significant weapon down low they could turn to who wouldn’t get railroaded by Tim Duncan. Instead they had Darko Milicic (who had a fine game the following night against Cleveland).

Wizards 83 Blazers 79 (Friday): This was an unhappy game. John Wall was bad and frustrated. The Blazers lost to the Wizards, despite John Wall having a bad game and being frustrated. This was a joyless, coal mine shift of a game.

Suns 105 Pacers 97 (Friday): Channing Frye had 29 points. So, you know, the Pacers may have some trouble with non-traditional positional adjustments.

Dallas 93 Jazz 81 (Friday), Dallas 105, Kings 103 (Saturday): Eight quarters for the Mavs this weekend, points produced: 23, 16, 27, 27, 28, 26, 26, 24. Steady light a freight train, sharp like a razor.

Report: Knicks interested in Kyrie Irving trade, but Kristaps Porzingis is off the table

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Kyrie Irving wants out of LeBron James‘ shadow and has asked for a trade in what seems a preemptive “if he’s going to leave then I’m going to leave first” kind of move.

Irving also gave the Cavaliers a list of preferred destinations. Which is nice. Irving doesn’t have a no-trade clause, he has no real power in these negotiations because he has two years on his deal — it is basically a child’s Christmas list to Santa starting with “a Dragon-themed Luxury Playhouse.”

The Knicks are on Irving’s preferred list, and they are interested but know the team’s best player is off the table, reports Ian Begley of ESPN.

The Knicks, obviously, have strong interest in Kyrie Irving (just like 29 other teams) but I’m told people in the Knicks front office would not be willing at this point to include Kristaps Porzingis in a trade. Some with the organization would be willing to include future first-round picks and Carmelo Anthony in a deal for Irving, per league sources.

A few thoughts here. At the top of the list, this is the absolutely right and only call for the Knicks, no way KP is available. And on social media, Porzingis liked a fan’s tweet of Irving in a Knicks’ uniform, so we know what he is thinking.

We know Carmelo would want to go to Cleveland, the question is would the Cavaliers want him with Irving gone? If they feel LeBron is leaving next summer, would this help change that dynamic and help get the Cavaliers back to the Finals?

If I were in the Knicks front office, I’d pitch the Anthony idea (heck, I’d pitch a Joakim Noah trade too, just to lighten up the room with a laugh). Then we could talk about doing a trade without Anthony or Porzingis, which would mean picks, Courtney Lee, Willy Hernangomez, Frank Ntilikina, and another player to make the numbers work.

The Cavaliers can afford to be patient, and they aren’t beholden to Irving’s list. See if teams with young assets — Phoenix, Dallas, Denver, etc. — come up with better offers. Wait the market out, don’t rush. If no deal blows you away, move into the season with Irving.

The Knicks are as realistic an option as anything right now. The doors are wide open.

Report: Cavaliers to officially make Koby Altman GM

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“Congratulations, Koby. Here’s your new corner office with a view, meet your new executive assistant, and finally here are the keys to the Cavaliers franchise… oh, and by the way, Kyrie Irving wants to be traded. And LeBron James is a free agent next year. Good luck with all that, we’ll leave you to it.”

Since Cleveland Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert inexplicably let go of David Griffin as the team’s general manager, assistant GM Kobe Altman has stepped into the lead role for the franchise. Now Gilbert is going to remove the interim tag from Altman’s title, according to multiple reports. Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN was first.

Now that he has the job, all he has to do is find a new home for Irving, who has demanded a trade… or he doesn’t have to. Irving may be traded this summer, but he has two years left on his deal so Altman could just bring him back with LeBron and Kevin Love and make another run at it. Or he could sit back and listen to trade offers from a lot of teams, and if he sees one he likes pounce — Irving (unlike Carmelo Anthony) doesn’t have a no-trade clause, so he can go anywhere. Altman has leverage.

Altman respected around the league, but he took over a team up against the cap and tax, a team that needed to find a way to get more athletic to compete with the Warriors. Instead, the Cavs re-signed Kyle Korver (age 35), signed Jose Calderon (age 36), and re-signed Richard Jefferson (age 37). The Cavs have essentially treaded water this offseason, while Warriors, Celtics, and Rockets all got better. That’s not all on Altman, he was thrown into the job and with the team well into the tax his options were limited. He was handed a near impossible task.

Now Altman gets to own that task. Enjoy.

Report: LeBron James being hands off, letting Cavaliers front office handle Irving trade

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Okay, Koby Altman — the Cavs interim general manager about to have the first part of that title removed — and Dan Gilbert, the ball is in your court.

Kyrie Irving has told the Cleveland Cavaliers he wants to be traded, and he’s given them a list of preferred landing spots. Normally in this kind of situation, the team’s biggest star would not only be informed but consulted and asked his opinion, however this time around LeBron James is going to be hands off, reports Brian Windhorst of ESPN.

LeBron James intends to let the Cleveland Cavaliers front office and owner Dan Gilbert take the lead in dealing with Kyrie Irving’s trade demands, sources told ESPN.

As the Cavs consider their options, sources said James has expressed to the team that he is focused on his offseason workout regimen and is planning to report to training camp with the intention of leading his teammates to a fourth consecutive Finals — no matter who those teammates are.

Despite the perception — and some reality, the team did try to make him happy — LeBron has not wanted to play GM of the Cavaliers in recent years. He has wanted to be more hands off, but has let his feelings be known at times. Part of that was he grew to trust David Griffin to make decisions. With Griffin out of the way, a lot of things feel different in Cleveland.

Consider this part of the crumbling of the foundation in Cleveland. LeBron is acting like an employee, one who shows up to do his job and that’s it — which is what he is, but stars can take on a larger role in the franchise. LeBron has, and does still to a degree, but he has scaled it back after his experiences over the years. Things feel like they are closing in on the Cavaliers, the only question is how fast?

Report: Cavaliers unhappy Kyrie Irving news leaked because it hurts trade value

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The news Kyrie Irving wants out of Cleveland came as a bolt of lightning to a finally slowed NBA offseason. Speculation about the future of LeBron James had been rampant, but discussions of Kyrie Irving’s future were usually tied to LeBron (if he left the Cavs, Irving would go, too).

Cleveland wanted to keep it under wraps, because it’s easier to do business that way. Now the word is out — including that he prefers to be traded to San Antonio, Minnesota, Miami, or New York — and the Cavaliers are not happy, reports Chris Haynes of ESPN.

It means that there will be a lot more leaks — teams that want to look like they are trying to do something but have no real interest/assets will make a call then leak it so it looks like they are trying. It will mean a lot of distracting headlines.

However, unlike Carmelo Anthony with the Knicks, the Cavaliers have leverage here. Irving doesn’t have a no-trade clause so the Cavaliers can take the best offer. Irving is an All-Star level point guard, one of the five to eight best in the NBA (depending on how much you knock him for his defensive lapses, and who you classify as a point guard). He also has two seasons left on his contract, so teams that trade for him have a chance to win him over to stay.

That said, leaked info or not, they are not getting equal value back. It doesn’t work that way with stars generally. That said, everyone knowing he wants out doesn’t help the Cavaliers cause here.