Knicks Walsh under pressure to make ‘Melo deal, but Nets have upper hand

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Knicks fans are in “Carmelo Anthony or bust” mode — they want him and they want him now. Get him and the Knicks win the title, the housing market will rebound, and the Dodo bird will return from extinction. Well, that’s what it sounds like on sports talk radio anyway.

Knicks decision maker Donnie Walsh is playing it cool. He’ll trade a few parts to get Anthony but he’s not going to gut the team because he understands that if ‘Melo really wants to be a Knick the Nuggets will have to deal with him. Or, he can just sign him during free agency. Why gut the team when you don’t have to?

Because the owner wants you to or you don’t get to keep your job.

ESPN’s Marc Stein explains as part of an update on the ‘Melo situation.

Knicks coach Mike D’Antoni and Knicks president Donnie Walsh are understandably hesitant to give up too much of New York’s depth to get Melo, as Chris Sheridan spelled… but one source well acquainted with both teams’ strategies echoes the rising notion that Walsh might have no choice if Knicks owner James Dolan takes a Melo-at-all-costs stance, as many observers anticipate. The source said: “Don’t forget Donnie is still trying to get a contract extension.” Translation: Getting Melo now, no matter what the cost, might be the clincher to get that extension.

That all may be moot, because if the Nets are seriously back in the game the Knicks don’t have the hand to win the pot.

The Nets and Nuggets are talking and currently the deal being discussed is Anthony, Chauncey Billups, Renaldo Balkman, Melvin Ely and Shelden Williams for Derrick Favors, Derrick Harris, Troy Murphy, Ben Uzoh and four first rounders, according to a tweet from Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo.

Not sure the rebuilding Nets will really give up four first round picks — even with ‘Melo there will be a lot of rebuilding to do in New Jersey and Brooklyn, they will need those picks.

That said, if the package is anything like that, it doesn’t matter what Dolan and Knicks fans want, they can’t come close to matching it. The entire decision will come down to Anthony, after he meets with Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov.

Except, Prokhorov’s people are saying he has not changed his mind on talking to Denver. That’s a little tough to swallow, although he may try to drive a harder bargain than the one listed above. But that deal gives the Nets some powerful pieces as it prepares to head to Brooklyn in two seasons. Good businessmen don’t walk away from a good deal.

Of course, it’s only a good deal if Anthony signs an extension with the Nets. Ultimately, that is what this comes down to.

But it’s always come down to Anthony. It has for a long time. It’s just now time for him to really, finally make a decision.

LeBron James finishes left-handed alley-oop with head behind backboard

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We have reached the point with LeBron James and his legendary career that the incredible almost seems ordinary — he has made our jaws drop so many times it’s hard for him to clear the bar of amazing anymore.

He did Saturday night against Utah.

In transition, LeBron gave up the ball to Jeff Green, who returned the favor with an alley-oop pass. Just not a particularly good one, it was behind James.

So he reaches back with his left hand and throws it down as he ducks his head under the backboard. Then LeBron stops and stares at his left hand, like he can’t believe what he just did.

We can’t either.

Carmelo Anthony standing ovation in return to Madison Square Garden

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Knicks fans may have had their frustrations with Carmelo Anthony, but they know how much he has meant to the franchise over the years. He pushed to be a Knick and chose to stay, he carried the franchise for years.

Saturday night he returned to Madison Square Garden in an Oklahoma City Thunder uniform after a trade this summer, and he was welcomed with a retrospective video followed by a standing ovation from the crowd (you can see all of it above).

Well done Knicks fans. Well done.

Lakers’ Kentavious Caldwell-Pope will not travel with team for 25 days due to legal issue

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The Lakers’Kentavious Caldwell-Pope missed his new team’s first two games this season due to a suspension for a DUI case in Michigan.

But that was not all. Caldwell-Pope’s came with probation, and to get out of it early the Lakers’ forward has to go through an intensive rehab program — one that does not allow him to leave California with the team for 25 days. He did not play against the Cavaliers and that is just the first of multiple games he will miss, a story broken by Ramona Shelburne of ESPN.

Caldwell-Pope was originally cited for operating a vehicle while intoxicated but pleaded guilty in May to the lesser charge of allowing someone to operate his vehicle while under the influence, which carried a 12-month probation.

On Thursday, Caldwell-Pope had to return to California to begin an intensive program over the next 25 days that will result in some travel restrictions and could cause him to miss additional games but will end his probation early.

The Lakers are in a home heavy part of their schedule, and by my calculations KCP would only miss one or two games (for sure against Houston Dec. 20, then maybe against Golden State Dec. 22, but that is in California). The Lakers next road game after that is Dec. 31 in Houston again.

Caldwell-Pope signed a one-year, $18 million deal with the Lakers last offseason, and he has gone on to become one of the few reliable three-point shooters on the team, hitting 36.1 percent from beyond the arc, taking 6.1 shots from there a game. He’s been solid on defense and a player the Lakers’ need, although his overall efficiency is closer to average.

If the Lakers are successful with their big game hunting during free agency next summer, Caldwell-Pope will not return to the team. In a tight free agent market, he may once again not see offers near what he sees himself worth next summer. That said, his play in Los Angeles has been good. And now he will not have this legal issue hanging over his head during free agency.

LeBron James is good with televising All-Star team selections

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From the moment the NBA announced changes to the All-Star Game team selection format for this season, most NBA fans — as well as most media members I know — have wanted a live team selection show.

As a reminder, this year (as in past years) fans will vote for their favorite All-Stars, and those votes will be combined with media and player votes to name the five starters from each conference. Then the coaches will vote to select the teams.

What’s different is the top vote-getters from each conference — let’s be honest, it will be LeBron James in the East and Stephen Curry or Kevin Durant in the West — will be named captains and they will then pick their teams from the pool of other selected players. No East vs. West. If LeBron gets to choose first and he picks James Harden, then Harden is on that team. Curry can go second and select Giannis Antetokounmpo or whoever he wants from the starters pool, then the captains move into the reserves pool. Old-school playground style team picking.

Who wouldn’t tune it to watch that selection show?

The NBA officially has not decided yet if the selection process will be broadcast, but it probably won’t be. The reason is some player is not going to like being picked last (or next to last) and his agent will like it less. It gets political (would Curry have to choose Durant or Draymond Green first to keep his teammates happy?).

LeBron basically said Saturday why not televise it? From Nick Friedell of ESPN, when LeBron was asked if it would bother him to go against teammates in the All-Star Game:

“I hope not,” James said after Saturday’s shootaround. “We’re all grown men. It doesn’t stop their paycheck from coming. It won’t stop you from playing time once the season starts.”

And is he good with the pick order being made public or done live.

“It doesn’t matter to me,” James said. “It doesn’t matter. At the end of the day, if I’m rewarded to be a part of the All-Star Game again, that’s cool for me. It doesn’t matter. All that other stuff is extracurricular.”

That’s the right attitude, and whoever got picked last would say that publicly. But privately… who knows? Depends on the guy.

That selection show would be must-watch television. The NBA needs to broadcast this. But it won’t. Politics will win out.