Knicks may be interested in Iguodala, Gibson, Varejao

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It’s no secret that the Knicks are hoping and expecting to land Carmelo Anthony before the February 24th trade deadline. However, it looks like the Nuggets may prefer to deal with the Nets, who can offer the Nuggets more than the Knicks can. According to Chris Broussard of ESPN.com, the Knicks aren’t planning to sit on their hands if they fail to land Anthony:

So if the Knicks can’t trade for Anthony by the Feb. 24 trade deadline, they’ve got two other potential Plan Bs in mind.

In one, they may go after Philadelphia’s Andre Iguodala, who would seem to fit nicely in Mike D’Antoni’s system. Eddy Curry’s expiring contract and one other player might be enough to pry Iguodala away from the Sixers, though Philadelphia doesn’t want to give away its top player in a mere salary dump.

The Knicks’ other scenario would potentially bring Cleveland’s proven role players Anderson Varejao and Daniel “Boobie” Gibson to Madison Square Garden. The Knicks are aware of their need for more toughness inside and Varejao would provide that. And Gibson could fill the backup point guard spot the Knicks have been looking to upgrade.

Iguodala would be a calculated risk. His athleticism and package of skills could make him a perfect fit for D’Antoni’s system, but he’s picked up some bad habits as a #1 option in Philadelphia — his True Shooting percentage has been lower than 54% for the last two seasons, and he’s spent far too much time pounding the ball on the perimeter and launching ill-advised jumpers.

Gibson and Varejao don’t have Iguodala’s star potential, but there’s far less risk associated with them. Gibson is a proven three-point gunner who’s made huge strides as a playmaker and all-around scorer this season — in fact, he may be the only Cleveland player who has improved offensively after the departure of LeBron James. Varejao is excellent at moving without the ball, a good finisher inside, and a furious rebounder and defender, something the Knicks saw when Varejao held Amar’e Stoudemire in check during the Cavs’ recent win over the Knicks.

The only real trade chips the Knicks have in these deals, assuming they’re not willing to part with Landry Fields or Wilson Chandler, are Eddy Curry and the talented but mercurial Anthony Randolph. With a lockout looming, financial flexibility may not be as attractive as it once was, so we’ll see if the Knicks can land a player who hasn’t made it publicly known that he wants out.

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

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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.