Three-team talks about Carmelo Anthony trade continue, Nuggets still dragging feet

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UPDATE 11:06 am: In an effort to push the deal forward, Knicks owner James Dolan called Nuggets owner Stan Kroenke directly to negotiate a deal, according to the New York Daily News.

According to a source familiar with the negotiations, Dolan’s decision to become more involved in the Anthony trade talks is a sign that the Knicks are closing in on a deal for the All-Star forward.

“And I would also think that at this point everyone is looking to take credit if Carmelo comes to New York,” said one Knicks source.

The part about getting credit makes a lot of sense. Particularly if Isiah Thomas is advising Dolan — Thomas would love to get credit for this and try find his way back into the Knicks organization.

8:18 am: When asked by FanHouse after the game if a deal for him was close, Carmelo Anthony said no.

So don’t expect anything imminent, but three-team talks between the Knicks, Nuggets and Minnesota Timberwolves continue to move ahead, according to the New York Post.

According to another Post story, it is the Nuggets that are dragging their feet on the deal.

“At the end of the day, it’s all up to Denver,” one person involved in the three-team discussions that would bring Carmelo Anthony to the Knicks told The Post.

“Just waiting to see what Denver ultimately does,” another individual with knowledge of the situation said.

That report comes out of New York so please sprinkle liberally with salt. Reports out of Minnesota and Denver say they are not as interested as is being suggested. With good reason.

The deal described in the report would have Anthony coming to the Knicks; Anthony Randolph, the expiring deal of Eddy Curry and Andy Rautins going to the Timberwolves; and the expiring contracts of Wilson Chandler, Kelenna Azubuike and Corey Brewer heading to Denver along with a first round pick of Minnesota’s. (One version of the report has the Curry contract also going to Denver to give them cap relief).

Denver would get cap relief and one pick, but that is far short of what they could have gotten in other deals. Of course, beggars can’t be choosers. Denver pushed and pushed to sweeten a couple of multi-team deals with the Nets to the point the Nets just walked away from the table. Now the Nuggets have no leverage. They may want to talk to the Nets again but we still have no idea if Anthony would sign an extension there (especially after Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov cancelled a meeting with him).

And this deal makes no sense at all for Minnesota. They give up Brewer and a first-round pick for the mercurial Randolph and a second round pick in Rautins? Why?

If this deal were to come together it will look a lot different. But even Knicks head man Donnie Walsh admitted they are talking.

“I don’t think we have anything going, but we’re getting a feeling for possibilities,” Walsh said before the Knicks beat the Sixers, 117-103. “We have a better feeling for what’s going to happen.”

Report: Clippers take Chris Paul-to-Spurs rumor ‘very seriously’

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Want to laugh off that Chris Paul-to-Spurs rumor?

The Clippers aren’t joining you.

Marc Stein of ESPN:

The Clippers should be concerned. Losing Paul would unravel their entire foundation, dropping them from the fringe of championship contention to out of the title picture completely. It could even help usher out Blake Griffin, who will also be an unrestricted free agent this summer. (To be fair, Paul leaving could also help convince Griffin to stay.)

About a month ago, the Clippers reportedly expected Paul to stay. They even reportedly struck a verbal agreement with him to re-sign before that. But they can’t officially sign him until July, and that leaves the door open for him to leave.

The Clippers should be heartened by their advantages – a prime market and a projected max offer of $205 million over five years.

The most another team projects to be able to offer is $152 million over four years, and San Antonio will have a hard time doing that. Even if they trim their roster to Kawhi Leonard, LaMarcus Aldridge, Pau Gasol, Danny Green and Tony Parker, the Spurs would still have to shed two of those players to clear max cap space.

So, never say never, but the Clippers’ concern might be rooted more in the dire consequences of Paul leaving rather than the likelihood of it.

Report: Raptors, Magic can’t trade with each other for a year

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The Magic will send the Raptors a 2018 second-round pick for hiring Jeff Weltman, who was Toronto’s general manager.

But that’s not the only consequence of hire.

Yahoo Sports:

The move invoked the NBA provision that Toronto and Orlando are not permitted to trade players with each other until the earlier of May 24, 2018, or the conclusion of the 2017-18 season for either organization, league sources told The Vertical’s Shams Charania.

The NBA made a similar ruling when the Clippers sent the Celtics a first-rounder to hire Doc Rivers, and I don’t like it now, either. It’s needlessly restrictive, preventing talent from flowing to the optimal locations.

At least Orlando isn’t a logical destination for the Raptor most likely to be dealt: Jonas Valanciunas. The Magic already have enough centers with Nikola Vucevic and Bismack Biyombo – a lesson that influenced their last trade with Toronto, dealing Serge Ibaka.

2017 NBA playoffs have been historically uncompetitive

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The NBA Finals so many wanted to see – Cavaliers-Warriors III – is here.

At least it will be.

Today is the first of six off days before the 2017, which begin June 1 in Oakland.

The lengthy delay is the product of an underwhelming postseason featuring few competitive series and numerous blowouts.

Golden State swept its way through the West, and Cleveland dropped only one game (to the Celtics in the conference finals) while winning the East. There have been only two Game 7s, but considering the magnitude, neither felt that compelling. Blake Griffin‘s injury undercut the Clippers against the Jazz, and Celtics over Wizards felt inevitable with home teams winning each game of the series. Between, there have been several lackluster games and series.

There have been just 74 playoff games this year – the fewest before the Finals since since the NBA instituted a best-of-seven first round in 2003:

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That’s 74 of a possible 98 games – 76%, the lowest since 1999 and seventh-lowest ever.

Even if the Finals go seven games, it will be the fewest games in a postseason since 2007. If the Finals go five or fewer games, it’ll be the shortest postseason in this playoff format.

And it hasn’t just been quantity. The quality of games has been lacking, too.

Though there were more blowouts last year by nearly any measure, the 2017 postseason’s average margin in pre-Finals games (13.5) is fifth-highest all-time and second-highest since 1959 (behind 2016, 14.2).

Combine the two factors, and these are the drabbest playoffs in nearly 50 years. Here’s each postseason plotted by average margin in pre-Finals games and percentage of possible games pre-Finals:

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This probably just confirms what you’ve seen: The 2017 playoffs have been in a rut.

We’re all counting on the Cavaliers and Warriors to salvage this postseason, but considering how deep the hole is, anything less than an epic Finals probably won’t cut it.

Kyrie Irving crosses over Avery Bradley, hits 3-pointer (video)

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Avery Bradley got around one screen then, thanks to Kyrie Irving‘s excellent ball-handling, lunged at another that wasn’t coming as Irving hit a 3-pointer.