Report: ‘Melo wants Nets to sell him on team, future

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It remains the ultimate final hurdle for the complex three-team trade that many reports now say could be completed early next week, after the Nets finish their current road trip (the final game is Sunday in San Antonio):

Will Anthony agree to a three-year, $65 million to play in New Jersey?

He wants the Nets to sell him on their future plans, according to Marc Spears of Yahoo.

“ ‘Melo can’t have cold feet now,” said one organizational source involved in the talks. “It’s too far down the line. He’s the one who wanted this.”

Anthony hasn’t ruled out committing to the Nets, but he wants a clearer vision of their plans for the future. Anthony’s preference is to wait to see what other trade options become available for him, the sources said.

According to a source of Sports Illustrated’s Chris Mannix (via twitter) the Nets had a plan for this:

Nets “expected that and have a plan to do just that.”expected

He adds that Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov is scheduled to be in the United States next Wednesday and the goal is to have the deal completed before then.

It’s been a hard, complex deal to put together. There are 14-to-16 players involved in a deal that would end with Anthony, Chauncey Billups and Rip Hamilton playing in New Jersey; send Devin Harris, Derrick Favors, Anthony Morrow, some other players and a couple first-round picks to Denver; and give Detroit Troy Murphy and Johan Petro and some second-round picks.

Anthony is right to question what the long-term plans of the Nets are.

A roster with him at forward, Billups and Hamilton in the backcourt, and Brook Lopez in the paint (without much else on the roster) is worse than the Nuggets team he is leaving now and could not compete with the elite of the East (it likely is a fifth or sixth seed next season). Billups (34) and Hamilton (32) are on the back ends of their careers, this is not the roster of the future. Plus, all the salary the Nets are taking on in this deal that would preclude them from getting Chris Paul and/or Dwight Howard in the summer of 2012 without more moves (the Nets would have more than $40 million on the books at that point without extending Lopez). If this team is going to compete with the Heat and Magic in three seasons, a series of other steps will need to be taken. Anthony is right to want to hear what those are.

Still, all signs point to the teams agreeing to the trade. It will all just come down to Anthony.

Remembering Notre Dame, Laker legend Tommy “the hawk” Hawkins

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Tommy Hawkins passed away recently at the age of 80.

The former NBA player was the first black athlete to earn All-America honors in basketball at Notre Dame (he still holds the school’s total rebounds record), was drafted in the first round, and went on to have a 10-year NBA career playing for the Minneapolis/Los Angeles Lakers as well as the Cincinnati Royals. Los Angeles fans may also remember him as the long time director of communications for the Los Angeles Dodgers after his playing days ended.

The NBA put together this well done video look back at Hawkins’ career.

Celtics’ Brad Stevens said early September tests will show if Thomas ready for camp

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Isaiah Thomas said he expects to be ready for the Celtics’ training camp next month. The guard’s All-NBA season came to an early end in the playoffs when he aggravated a labral tear in his right hip initially suffered back in March. At least the injury did not require surgery.

Players are also about the worst judges of when they will recover from an injury. They pretty much all think they are invincible and will be healthy faster than doctors predict.

Coaches tend to be more pragmatic. Take Boston’s Brad Stevens, who told Chris Mannix on The Vertical Podcast that tests in a couple of weeks will show if Thomas is ready for camp.

“He has another follow-up and another scan in the early part of September. Obviously, it’s been a lot of appropriate rest, a lot of rehab. There have been some good strides here certainly in the last month or few weeks, but we’re not going to know that until after that early September timeframe.”

The Celtics are understandably going to be cautious with Thomas, while Thomas wants to prove he is healthy and has no ill effects from the injury as he enters a contract year (one where he expects to get PAID). Also, the Celtics could use him in camp as they start to figure out how he and Gordon Hayward can share playmaking duties.

Still, from the outset, the timelines have suggested he should be ready for camp in late September. Coaches are just cautious on these things by nature.

Allen Iverson predicts LeBron James will win MVP

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LeBron James has four NBA MVP trophies in his case. (Does he keep that case in his home in Akron or the one in Los Angeles… that’s a question for another day.) Only Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (six) and Michael Jordan (five) have more.

Could LeBron James add a fifth to his case this season?

Allen Iverson said yes at last weekend’s Big3 playoffs in Seattle.

LeBron was fourth in preseason odds to win the MVP at 15/2, behind Russell Westbrook, Kevin Durant, and Kawhi Leonard.

To me, LeBron could be a good bet. If/when Kyrie Irving is traded, the chances of LeBron getting the MVP go up. If LeBron puts up impressive numbers (again) and leads a depleted Cavaliers team to a top two seed in the East, he is certainly going to be in consideration. And should be.

It’s a long season, and personally, I think you need to get midway through the season before seriously considering the year-end awards. But history says LeBron will be in the mix, and Allen Iverson could be proven prophetic.

Phoenix Suns with quality solar eclipse joke on Twitter

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With the cooler-than-I-expected solar eclipse on Monday came a lot of bad solar eclipse jokes on Twitter. Because that’s what Twitter does. Especially the NBA Twitterverse. We knew a lot of “where on the flat earth will Kyrie Irving watch the eclipse?” jokes were coming.

There were a couple of good ones, however.

Appropriately, the Phoenix Suns won the day.

One personal favorite here, an old meme that never goes out of style.