Mikhail Prokhorov Introductory Press Conference

Does nyet mean nyet? Nets not necessarily out of ‘Melo sweepstakes.

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The person with the strongest negotiating position is the person willing to walk away from the table.

Nobody thought that was the New Jersey Nets — they needed a big star. They needed someone who could open their new Brooklyn home in 2012, who could attract other big time free agents to the team. They needed Carmelo Anthony.

At least that’s what the Nuggets thought, and it’s why they thought the Nets deal would always be there. So they flirted with other teams and waited. They pushed the Nets to bring in other teams and take on more salary. Denver’s front office thought they had the best hand because they had Anthony.

Then Wednesday Mikhail Prokhorov walked away from table.

He may have walked away from the table because he learned Anthony would not sign an extension with the Nets, and this was a play to save face and seem like the bad a— Russian billionaire. Although does anyone really doubt that a guy who made billions in the current Russian economy is a bad a–? That comes with the territory.

But whether he walked away because he was sick of the game or because Anthony said no — and despite the repeated statements that the deal is dead — don’t be surprised if the ‘Melo to the Nets talks start up again.

The Nuggets are going to look around and realize what Joni Mitchell told them — you don’t know what you’ve got ‘till it’s gone. They’ll talk to the Knicks and the Rockets and whomever else may pop up, but they’ll never see an offer that has Derrick Favors, Devin Harris and cap relief.

Maybe they’ll miss that deal enough to pick up the phone and call, this time ready to deal and not try to squeeze blood from a turnip.

Carmelo Anthony may look around and see that the Nuggets are still not going to deal with the Knicks and that he is more likely to be shipped off to Houston or Dallas on the rent-a-‘Melo plan, where they don’t care if he doesn’t sign the extension. And if he doesn’t, he is leaving tens of millions on the table (depending on what the new CBA looks like).

Maybe that’s enough to get him to pick up the phone and tell everyone involved that he’d sign an extension in New Jersey.

Maybe the Nets will be willing to negotiate again, but on their terms this time.

I’m not saying Prokhorov is bluffing — he seems fully prepared to walk away and fight another battle another day. He can live without Anthony.

But he’s also too good a businessman not to come back to the table when he has the upper negotiating hand. And if those talks start again in a couple of weeks when things have cooled down, it would not be a surprise.

Steve Kerr on Stephen Curry: “it’s not an injury”

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In the age of social media and spin, the idea of a nuanced answer — where there is some truth to a statement, but it is not the only reason for something — gets drowned out.

For example, let’s take the case of Stephen Curry‘s below-par performance against the Oklahoma City Thunder (he was 6-of-20 shooting with six turnovers in Game 4 and is 5-of-21 from three in the last two games). A report came out Wednesday morning saying Curry was only 70 percent following his knee surgery, which first led to a lot of silly “excuses” comments on Twitter. This led to Steve Kerr denying the injury, via Ben Bolch of the Los Angeles Times.

Here’s a radical idea: Curry’s struggles are a combination of things.

Yes, the improved, athletic, and lengthy Thunder defense is giving Curry problems. They are meeting him out high, often doubling off the pick-and-roll, and when that pick is set by Draymond Green Kevin Durant and his length is doing a great job of blowing that play up. Also, it is clear the physical exertion of guarding Russell Westbrook is wearing Curry down.

But also, he has lacked the explosiveness we saw lift him to a second consecutive MVP during the season. He’s had great quarters — the fourth and OT in Game 4 vs. Portland, and the second quarter of Game 2 vs. OKC — but he has not been the consistent force we are used to seeing.

Welcome to the playoffs, where if someone is a little bit off that gets exploited by the other team.

That is what is going on, the rest is just spin.

Frank Vogel says it would be “inaccurate” to say he begged for his job with Pacers

TORONTO, ON - MAY 01:  Head Coach Frank Vogel of the Indiana Pacers looks on in the first half of Game Seven of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals against the Toronto Raptors during the 2016 NBA Playoffs at the Air Canada Centre on May 01, 2016 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)
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This is all moot now. Frank Vogel has landed on his feet with a promising young Orlando team; Nate McMillan slid up a chair to take over the head coaching job in Indiana (which is an odd hire if Larry Bird wants the Pacers to play faster). But…

Frank Vogel wants you to know he did not beg for his job.

At the post-firing press conference of Pacers’ coach Larry Bird, he said that Vogel basically begged for his job. Vogel, speaking on ESPN Indianapolis Radio’s Dan Dakich Show Tuesday, via the Indianapolis Star:

Larry’s going to speak his mind. A lot of people talked to me about it who didn’t like that and it’s probably an inaccurate perception that I was begging him to stay. … I fully respect Larry and the process. He knew it was going to be an unpopular move but he did what he had to do.

“I felt like we were on the verge of some big things. We stood toe-to-toe with a 56-win team. I told my team after the series that were poised … I felt like I was going to be able to do that with this group. That was my only mention to Larry.”

Again, this is all moot.

The reality is Vogel was never Bird’s guy, Bird wanted the Pacers to play faster than they did last season (11th in the NBA in pace), and Bird thought it time for a change. He’s the team president, it’s his call.

But did Bird make the Pacers better with this move? Begging discussion aside, that is the question to which he must answer.

Kobe Bryant texts Draymond Green, says making history is not easy

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The Golden State Warriors made history — they won 73 games, more than any team in NBA history.

But they are on the verge of being remembered like the 2007 Patriots.

The Warriors are down 3-1 to the Thunder for a variety of reasons — the Thunder defense has been exceptional, Russell Westbrook is a beast, for whatever reason Stephen Curry is not playing like MVP Stephen Curry — but there is another key one:

Draymond Green has played like crap the last couple games.

Kobe Bryant, who relates to Green’s drive and intensity, texted him a message according to Sportando:

That reflects Kobe’s world view.

It may be very different from the Warriors’ reality — even if Curry and Green were back to playing at their peak, it very well might be a coin toss with this Thunder team playing at their peak. The struggles of those two — Green has turned the ball over, missed shots, and missed defensive rotations for two games — have a lot to do with the quality of play of that Thunder defense.

But if the Warriors can come back and win the series (and the title), it will add to their legend.

Report: Grizzlies offer David Fizdale head coaching job

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This is a quality hire, a respected long-time NBA assistant who has deserved a shot in the big chair.

But is he an upgrade over Dave Joerger?

Apparently the Grizzlies are betting that Miami Heat assistant coach David Fizdale is the man they need. From Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical at Yahoo Sports.

Casual fans may not know his name, but this could be a good hire for Memphis. Fizdale is an assistant coach with a quality franchise who has paid his dues and deserves a chance. For example, in Miami Fizdale had won the trust and respect of a team full of players that had won rings. He was a guy they leaned on. As an example, Fizdale worked hard with LeBron James on developing a post game; he was the guy LeBron trusted.

But how will he deal with an aging roster that lacks shooting? The Memphis job is a good one, but it has its challenges.