Report: Melo will only sign extension if traded to New York

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Chris Sheridan of ESPN New York is reporting that Denver Nuggets forward Carmelo Anthony has informed his team he will only sign his extension if he is traded to the New York Knicks.

Baboom.

CBSSports.com’s Ken Berger has sources disputing the report that Melo has informed Denver, but confirms the decision: Melo will not re-sign unless he is traded to New York. Which means Denver now has a clear decision in front of them. They can either allow Melo to enter free-agency with the hopes of re-signing him, or trade him to New York to ensure that they receive something in return.

So that’s fun.

The Knicks beat the Nuggets today, which only had to hurt the situation, especially as Melo was given the equivalent of a love letter signed by the 19,387 in attendance. Melo said after the game that people were “shouting from windows” how much they wanted him in New York. That’s got to make a guy feel good.

The Nuggets have been playing better as of late, but the question still remains if they’re going anywhere. Meanwhile, the Knicks have rattled off eight in a row against largely underwhelming opposition (Boston and Miami provide an overdue reality check next week).  Nuggets fans probably don’t want to give Melo the satisfaction of choosing where he gets to be traded to, but teams are very unlikely to trade for him with him saying he only wants to be in New York long-term. Even the Bobcats.

And so Denver has to make a decision, and once they do, the future of the franchise is changed forever. No biggie, Masai Ujiri. Good luck with that.

Tyronn Lue says he has secret plan to fix Cavaliers’ defense for playoffs

AP Photo/Phil Long
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Only one team that ranked outside the top 12 in points allowed per possession during the regular season won an NBA title. The 2000-01 Lakers, who were 21st in defensive rating, are the lone outlier.

The Cavaliers rank 22nd in defensive rating this season and have been even worse lately.

But Cleveland coach Tyronn Lue says he has a plan. He just won’t reveal it yet.

Lue, via Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com:

“We’ve got to hold back. We can’t show our hand early because … these are some good teams and we don’t want them to be able to come into a series and be able to adjust to what we do. We just have to be able to play our normal defense until we get there and then we will see what happens.”

Also:

“I think the rebounding hurt us. Rebounding. But it will be different once some other things happen. … Their two-guards, their threes, they still crashed the boards. But we have something to fix that. Just not right now.”

What precisely those plans are, Lue wouldn’t tell us. And here’s the other part — he’s not exactly sure they’ll work.

“I’m not confident, but we’ve got to” get the defense fixed, Lue said. “We have to.”

The Cavs ranked just 10th in defensive rating last season, among the worst marks for an eventual champion. But they cranked up their defense in the playoffs, especially late. Cleveland held the Raptors 4.8 points per 100 possessions below their regular-season scoring rate and the Warriors 7.8 below theirs.

Lue also unleashed a 3-point-heavy attack in the playoffs last year after sitting on the strategy through the regular season.

So, I have some faith Lue will implement a better defensive gameplan when it counts. It also helps to have LeBron James, who can still play elite defense when not in the slog of a long regular season.

But the Cavaliers’ defensive deficiencies right now are glaring. This roster appears to lack defensive potential, and their many miscues keep them well below whatever that potential is.

The challenge in elevating this defense to championship-caliber will be immense, maybe even unprecedented.

Mavericks’ Salah Mejri dunks while getting shoved in the gut (video)

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The Mavericks built a 13-point lead over the Thunder with 3:30left thanks to plays like this Salah Mejri dunk on Nick Collison.

Unfortunately for Dallas, Russell Westbrook happened.

Willy Hernangomez dunks on Andre Drummond, Pistons’ playoff chances (video)

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Andre Drummond and the Pistons couldn’t slow down anything.

Not Willy Hernangomez. Not the Knicks. Not Detroit’s plummeting playoff hopes.

After a 109-95 loss to the Knicks last night, the Pistons — who’ve lost four straight and seven of eight — are 1.5 games and two teams out of playoff position.

Terrence Ross 360 dunks his way back into Raptors fans’ hearts (video)

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In his first appearance in Toronto since the Raptors traded him to the Magic, Terrence Ross did what he has done best throughout his career: Delight Toronto fans with a dunk.

And of course the fans appreciated it, because their Raptors cruised to a 131-112 win.