Knicks may get ‘Melo, but don’t expect it via free agency

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There are a lot of questions and a lot of rumors flying around about what happens with Carmelo Anthony now that the Nets have pulled out of the running.

One of the theories: Anthony will play out his contract, opt out next summer and come to the Knicks as a free agent.

Not going to happen.

Okay, it’s not impossible, but it’s about as likely as Anthony going to the Clippers (the issue there isn’t the quality of offer, it’s Anthony agreeing to play for Donald Sterling, which he will not do).

The problem starts with a biggie — the Knicks can’t offer ‘Melo a max deal this summer. Zach Lowe broke it down simply and cleanly at Sports Illustrated’s Point Forward today.

Even if the Knicks renounce all their players on non-guaranteed deals and their outgoing free agents (including Wilson Chandler), they still have about $43.5 million in committed salary for next season. Toss in a set charge for their first-round pick (likely around $1.5 million) and roster charges for empty slots, and you’re up to nearly $46 million on the books for next season. The current salary cap is a shade over $58 million, meaning the Knicks, in this dream world, would not have enough room to sign Free Agent ‘Melo to anything close to what currently constitutes a maximum-level deal.

As Lowe notes, that is using the current salary cap and salary structure of the NBA. After the coming lockout, you can bet that if there is a salary cap it will be lower and the punishments for exceeding it will be harsher (the max deal money may be lower as well). The new CBA will make it harder to get Anthony even if the Knicks were able to dump the salaries of Anthony Randolph and Timofey Mozgov on some unsuspecting soul.

Then there’s this little dilemma — Anthony has said multiple times he wants to sign an extension under the current CBA. As he should, I don’t care how much money you have you don’t leave $10 million or more on the table. Anthony might well decide he likes $10 million more than he likes New York and end up somewhere else. (No, still not the Clippers, stop it.)

The Knicks may have gotten new life with the Nets pulling out of the Anthony sweepstakes — if they really did pull out and this wasn’t a negotiating tactic — but they still need to find a way to come up with a trade the Nuggets like to make this a reality.

Rockets’ Clint Capela on Warriors: ‘I expect to beat them’

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During the 2014-15 season, Rockets star James Harden said the Warriors “ain’t even that good.”

Golden State went on to reach the last three NBA Finals, twice beating Houston in the playoffs, and win two championships.

The Rockets have since re-tooled around Harden, Chris Paul and several quality role players and are in first place. Houston looks like the biggest threat to the Warriors in the Western Conference.

Rockets center Clint Capela on the Warriors, via Dave Schilling of Bleacher Report:

“I expect to beat them,” Capela says.

That’s a fine sentiment. Saying it publicly is another matter. Not even Harden did that a couple years ago. He was recorded during a pregame team huddle.

There’s a fine line between self-fulfilling confidence and providing bulletin-board material to the opponent. There’s already some animosity between the teams stemming from the Stephen Curry-Harden MVP race in 2015, and it has bubbled since. No matter how harmless Capela’s remark might have been intended to be, it’ll be met contentiously in the Bay Area.

PBT Extra Player of the Week: Victor Oladipo

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Oklahoma City traded for Victor Oladipo out of Orlando to be their third scorer, behind Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. It didn’t exactly work out that way, Durant bolted town and when Westbrook went off Oladipo was looking for a place to fit in.

That place turned out to be the Pacers.

Oladipo has been playing like an All-Star this season with Indiana, and last week he was key in snapping Cleveland’s 13 game win streak, then turned around and dropped 47 points on Denver. For the week he averaged 35.7 points a game, shot 45.7 percent from three, plus grabbed 7.7 rebounds per game.

That will get you named the PBT Extra Player of the Week.

Watch Pacers fan boo Paul George during introductions (video)

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Paul George – who told the Pacers he’d leave in free agency, prompting them to trade him to the Thunder – expected boos in his return to Indiana.

Pacers fans delivered.

They’ve also booed him every time he has touched the ball, which will certainly persist.

John Wall returns for Wizards-Grizzlies

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WASHINGTON (AP) — Point guard John Wall was in the Washington Wizards’ lineup Wednesday night against the Memphis Grizzlies after missing nine games with a sore left knee.

Coach Scott Brooks said Wall would play in the mid-20-minute range, perhaps a bit more.

The Wizards (14-13), currently in first place in the Southeast Division, went 4-5 in Wall’s absence.

“He such a force offensively,” Brooks said of Wall. “He’s a two-way player and he’s one of the few guys in the league that can find open 3-point shooters going 100 miles an hour in transition.”

Wall, 27, is averaging 20.3 points and 9.2 assists per game.