This post will help you understand why, during the press conference introducing Carmelo Anthony as a Knick next week, you will hear Donnie Walsh thank Isiah Thomas through gritted teeth.
Thomas was on sports talk radio in Miami Tuesday night and, amazingly, there was little talk about FIU basketball and a lot about the Knicks. Marc Berman of the New York Post suffered through the interview so you and I don’t have to, and he noted the highlight was Thomas not denying he still is a friend and basically unpaid consultant to Knicks owner James Dolan.
And of course, there was Carmelo Anthony talk.
“Everyone agrees they need to keep improving to get to a championship level,” Thomas said of the Knicks on Miami radio Tuesday. “I don’t think anyone’s saying, ‘This is it.’ I do think the organization wants to improve to get better and get to the next to level.
“But for me to speculate on this Carmelo situation, I just don’t think it would be proper to insert myself in such a public way knowing what I know.”
Thomas added, “In order to get to a championship level, which every team aspires to get to, you try to get the best players and try to get as many as you possibly can and see if you can win it.”
Thomas is not a paid consultant with the Knicks — the league shot that down. When asked if he was an unpaid advisor to Dolan, Thomas said:
“The conversations I have with any of my friends are always private and confidential,” Thomas said. “The conversations I have with friends and people that I know, those are private conversations.”
Private, but potentially influential. And the more Dolan sticks his nose in the Anthony deal, the more likely the Knicks overpay. Because if Thomas can be counted on for one thing, it’s overpaying.
Jusuf Nurkic did not enjoy his time as a member of the Denver Nuggets. His trade to the Portland Trail Blazers in exchange for Mason Plumlee was a welcome change of scenery.
On Tuesday night, Nurkic got to take on his old team with huge playoff implications at stake. Portland beat the Nuggets, 122-113, moving a game ahead of their rivals in the race for the No. 8 seed in the Western Conference and giving them the best tiebreaker between the two.
Nurkic was impressive, blasting his old squad with 33 points on 12-of-15 shooting, adding 16 rebounds, three blocks, and two assists.
Nurkic was interviewed in the arena after the game, and he was obviously happy he helped his team while also sticking it to Denver. Speaking with Portland reporter Brooke Olzendam, Nurkic took one last shot at the Nuggets, telling them to enjoy their summer.
Nurkic quite possibly sent the Nuggets packing for the year with the game at the Moda Center on Tuesday, so he might have been the guy who helped start their summer.
Still, that is ice cold.
Miami Heat forward James Johnson is one of the NBA’s best in-game dunkers. On Tuesday night against the Detroit Pistons, he yammed down a huge one-handed slam that embarrassed Marcus Morris and drew gasps from the crowd at the Palace.
The play came midway through the fourth quarter with Johnson at the top of the key. After a quick pass over to him, Johnson gave a quick hesitation before driving to his left and past his defender.
With the quick step, Johnson’s only remaining opponent at the basket was Morris, who was unfortunate enough to find himself between the high-flying Heat and the rim.
This is what happened next:
Morris was whistled for a foul on the play.
The Miami Heat took until the final moments on Tuesday night to beat the Detroit Pistons, but it was worth it. With just a handful of games left to play, the Heat need to stave off the Chicago Bulls for the final spot in the Eastern Conference playoff race. Thanks to a tip at the buzzer by Hassan Whiteside, they’re one step closer to achieving that goal.
The play came with just seconds left in the fourth quarter. James Johnson missed a shot with six seconds to go, and the Heat grabbed the rebound. Goran Dragic then tried his hand, but he couldn’t get it to go, either.
That’s when Whiteside came back with a tip at the buzzer that ended the game.
Miami now sits at 36-38, a game above the Bulls for the No. 8 seed.
Whiteside, meanwhile, is never going to wash that hand again:
Former Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant was a pretty consistent player in the NBA. Save for his final injury-laden seasons and the lockout year of 2011-12, Bryant played in no fewer than 65 regular season games in a single season.
Coaches also had no reason or want to ask Bryant — a notorious worker — to sit out in order to rest. That wasn’t really on the menu, and Bryant knew that.
Speaking to ESPN’s First Take, Bryant said no coach really asked him to ever take a rest, “I’ve never been approached by a coach and asked to rest.”
Bryant remarked that he took queues from Michael Jordan during tough stretches of the season — back-to-backs or four games in five night scenarios — where he could switch his game up, floating from perimeter to post, in order to save energy during those matchups.
Bryant also said during the same interview that he understands the complexity of the modern game, and that players like LeBron James deserve to take a rest if they’ve earned it.
“LeBron has done so much for the game. He’s earned the opportunity to take a rest,” said Bryant.
The debate on this subject will continue, it seems.