Mikhail Prokhorov Introductory Press Conference

Nets granted permission to speak with Melo

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Throughout this entire, bizarre process, there have been some who kept questioning if any of this was true or just a fabrication of the New York media. After all, Carmelo Anthony never said he wanted to be traded from the Nuggets. And technically that could still be true. But a big piece fell into place late Sunday. David Aldridge of NBA.com reports:

A league source said Sunday that the Denver Nuggets have granted the New Jersey Nets permission to speak directly with Carmelo Anthony about the proposed trade that would send Anthony to New Jersey, and about potentially signing the three-year extension that the Nets insist Anthony agree to before they agree to make the deal…

…Under normal rules, direct contact with Anthony by Nets officials, up to and including majority owner Mikhail Prokhorov, would be tampering. But if Denver gives New Jersey permission to contact Anthony, the Nets can make their sales pitch to Anthony about their team without being subject to penalties. Prohkorov, according to league sources, believes he can sell Anthony on the Nets if he can get in front of him.

via Nuggets grant Nets permission to speak with Anthony | NBA.com.

And here come the big guns.

The Nets has previously felt they could get Anthony to sign even without having to meet with Prokhorov. But with reports coming out late last week that Melo was still unconvinced on signing, despite a framework of the now-goal-line three-way trade in place, the Nets apparently felt that the time had come to take it to the next level.

It’s also a huge step for Denver, who is surrendering its last vestiges of leverage. They can still reject any deal, but if the three-way should fall through following the meeting due to Anthony’s reluctance, their control over future deals will be compromised as teams will be able to prey upon a revealed engagement in trading the superstar. This has been the case for months anyway, but Masai Ujiri and company have insisted on attempting to maintain the appearance of being in control of this situation (Read: They have no hand!)

So now the Russian will speak to the superstar, and we’re all held captive for probably another week.

Oh, goody.

Spurs to give Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili Friday night off in Denver

Manu Ginobili, Harrison Barnes, Tim Duncan
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The Spurs are 12-3 and comfortably in second place in the West, they have the best defense in the NBA allowing just 93.8 points per 100 possessions, and they have a top-10 offense to go with it.

So, time to start making sure guys are rested.

That is the first night of a back-to-back, with former Spurs’ assistant coach Mike Budenholzer and his Atlanta Hawks coming to San Antonio on Saturday. Popovich is saving his two veterans for that game.

Duncan and Ginobili have looked like they found the fountain of youth this season. Duncan is taking on less of the offense but has been very efficient in those moments. Ginobili has the impact he did a few years back in his bench role.

What Gregg Popovich cares about is them playing like that come the postseason. So they will rest on Friday.

Brandon Armstrong impersonates Ray Allen (video)

2014 NBA Finals - Game Five
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Ray Allen is retired-ish, but he’ll always be running through screens – in our mind and in this video.

Celtics draft pick Marcus Thornton gets beer dumped on head during Australian game (video)

Marcus Thornton, Will Cherry

The Celtics drafted Marcus Thornton with No. 45 pick in the 2015 NBA draft. That essentially entitled him to the required tender – a one-year contract offer, surely unguaranteed at the minimum.

Thornton rejected that, which is almost always a mistake.

Rejecting the tender is a favor to the drafting team, which gets to keep the player’s exclusive rights for a year. If Thornton tries to join the NBA now, he’s stuck negotiating with only the Celtics.

By accepting the tender, the player typically gets one of two outcomes. He either plays on that contract and draws an NBA salary or he gets waived. But even getting waived is better than rejecting the tender, because at least the player becomes a free agent and can negotiate with any team.

Players who reject the tender go to another league and play for less money. In Thornton’s case, that mean Australia.

How’s that going?

(Almost) never reject the required tender as a second-round pick.

Byron Scott says they just have to get Kobe Bryant better looks

Kobe Bryant, Joe Johnson, Byron Scott

Kobe Bryant is averaging 15.2 points a game at age 37. It’s just taking him 16.4 shots per game to get there. After his 1-of-14 shooting performance against the Warriors the other night — with too much isolation and too many plays run just for him — there has been a lot of talk about his shot. With reason, this is his shot chart so far this season.

Kobe shotchart season

So what do the Lakers’ do? Get Kobe to shoot less and get the ball in the hands of the young stars they supposed to be developing more? Nah.

They just need to get Kobe better looks, Scott told the Los Angeles Times.

“I know his mentality is that he can still play in this league,” Scott said. “And we feel the same way….

“Obviously he’s struggling right now with his shot, and I think everybody can see that,” Scott said. “So it’s trying to get him in better position to be able to have an opportunity to knock those shots down on a consistent basis. That’s No. 1.

“I don’t know if it’s his legs. I don’t think so. Again, our conversations are pretty blunt. … He tells me when he is tired and he tells me when he’s not tired. And the last few days, he said he feels great. So, I don’t think it’s a matter of him being tired or his legs being tired. I think it’s a matter of his timing being a little off.”

Yes, how could it be his legs? It’s not like he’s a 37-year-old with more than 55,000 NBA minutes played, and coming off an Achilles rupture and major knee surgery.

Honestly, I hope the Lakers and Kobe find a balance soon, because they have become just hard to watch. And I don’t want Kobe to go out this way.