Beyond the ongoing, never-ending, painfully unresolved saga of Carmelo Anthony lies the dread and doom of another situation. If you check Denver’s books, you’ll notice that Nene has an ETO (Early Termination Option) for 2011, meaning he can jump ship and enter free agency should he elect to do so. Nene loves Denver and wants to return, but he’s getting a little fed up with this whole, bizarre, distracting Anthony situation, according to CBSSports.com:
Nene, arguably Denver’s second-best player, has made a list of three teams he’s interested in signing with or being traded to — and not surprisingly, one of them is Miami, where his fierce interior presence would be the missing piece for the Heat.
… Thus far, Denver’s stance has been to deal with Anthony first, but sources say the Nuggets are running out of time to get Nene to agree to an extension. And if Anthony and Chauncey Billups are traded in a clear step toward rebuilding, there is little doubt Nene will push for a trade.
… Nene hasn’t voiced any desire to be dealt yet, but sources say recently he has been among the most outspoken Nuggets in his anger about the distractions Anthony’s situation has caused.
This further confirms what we already thought: if the Nuggets have to trade Carmelo Anthony, the odds of a full-blown detonation increase dramatically. Losing Nene would crush the Nuggets inside.
Meanwhile, Nene’s value on the open market would be sky high. Miami being an option is scary enough, providing Chris Bosh with a backbone to so he can hit jumpers all day long, but there are other contenders who would get a lot out of Nene. The Knicks also come to mind, immediately. Nene has played in a high-pace system in Denver for the last several years, so he’s familiar with the run and gun style. Giving Stoudemire a legit force down low would create a twin towers system which would be a game changer for the Knicks.
Even teams like Boston, with Kendrick Perkins (should, for some unforeseen reason they elect not to re-sign him, which they will) and conceivably Shaquille O’Neal coming off the books could be interested. In short, should Nene elect to leave home, he’s going to have his choice of options. But Denver needs to do everything possible to get him locked back into a contract.
If they can ever get the Melo thing resolved, that is.
Three Things to Know: All-Star starters named, who should be in reserve?
Still, it was mostly the usual suspects and there were no surprises as the NBA All-Star Game starters were announced. They were picked by a vote of the fans (50 percent), players (25 percent), and selected media members (25 percent). Here’s the list.
Remember it is not East vs. West this year. LeBron and Curry, as the top vote-getters, will be the captains and select teammates in a playground-style draft, first from the starters listed above, then from a pool of reserves selected by the coaches to be announced next Tuesday. LeBron chooses first and what is Curry going to do when LeBron goes with Durant?
Picking those reserves is where someone will get snubbed — there is no way to pick just seven players per conference and not leave out deserving guys. Damian Lillard didn’t deserve to be an All-Star starter no matter what he thinks, but is he even an All-Star this year in the loaded West? There must be two backcourt, three frontcourt, and two wild-card selections for each conference. Here’s who I would pick:
2) The Cleveland Cavaliers win… over the Orlando Magic. By one point. After blowing a 22-point lead. “Right now we’re in Strugglesville,” is how LeBron put the Cavaliers right now. He’s right. Cleveland had lost four in a row and was 2-8 in their last 10 coming into this one, but Thursday night they were facing one of the flat-out worst teams in the NBA in Orlando, so easy win? Nope. It took a couple Isaiah Thomas free throws with 11 seconds left — then Elfrid Payton missing a contested layup with a couple of seconds left — to give the Cavaliers a 104-103 win.
Cleveland was up 22 in this one, but once again their defense isn’t good and when the offense isn’t firing on all cylinders they can be beaten by anyone. The Cavs shot 1-of-17 from three in the second half and were outscored by 16 in the third quarter, blowing another good first half effort.
There were bright spots for the Cavs. Derrick Rose returned to the lineup and after missing two months due to a sprained ankle, and he had nine points in 13 minutes on the court. And Isaiah Thomas had a strong night.
However, the play of the night — and maybe the assist of the season — went to LeBron.
3) James Harden returns, Rockets pick up win over Timberwolves. The Houston Rockets picked up a quality win at home over a Minnesota Timberwolves squad that is playing good basketball — and that’s not really the big news out of this one.
James Harden was back and starting for the Rockets. He missed seven games with a strained hamstring and the Rockets went 4-3 without him, which is not bad but they were not the same dominant team. Harden had 10 points and seven assists in limited minutes, and he understandably showed a little rust. His return this fast is a boost for his MVP chances if he can return to form — he and LeBron have been neck-and-neck as the frontrunners for the award this season, and the injury gave LeBron the chance to take charge of the race, but instead the Cavaliers have stumbled badly of late. Harden has a chance to take hold of this race, something that does matter to him.
Finally having Harden and Chris Paul healthy moved Eric Gordon back to his sixth man role and he thrived, dropping 30.
Gordon would be the frontrunner for Sixth Man of the Year, but he started too many games due to injury (half of them, coming into this game). If Paul and Harden can stay on the court, Gordon could repeat as Sixth Man winner.
Elfrid Payton slams chasedown block on LeBron James (VIDEO)
NBA All-Star voting is over, and now we have the results. The starters are in, and what’s left is for us to wait until they announce the teams after they are picked in double secret ceremony.
Of course, the NBA did release the full voting results via their PR website this week, and as such there are some head scratchers. My boy Patrick Redford over at Deadspin did an excellent job rounding up some of the players who got exactly one (1) vote from other players.
The gag here is that these guys presumably voted for themselves.
players who got exactly one all-star vote that was definitely them voting for themselves:
– Nerlens Noel – Gerald Green – Kentavious Caldwell-Pope – Mario Hezonja – Kosta Koufas – Cam Payne – Langston Galloway – Luke Kennard