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Reports: Anthony says he’ll only sign with Knicks; Also to meet with Nets

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UPDATE #2 7:40 pm: Carmelo Anthony is going to meet with the New Jersey Nets tonight — despite what both Prokhorov and Anthony said just hours before — according to Frank Isola of of the New York Daily News.

As I said in the main post, take everything with a grain of salt. Actually,  whole shaker. That’s not to say this is or is not true, it would seem fitting for ‘Melo at this point to say he will only sign with the Knicks then turn around and meet with the Nets anyway. From the public perspective, he has got more waffle batter going right now than Roscoe’s here in Los Angeles.

But if Prokhorov really does get him in a room, we’ll see just how good he is at selling the Nets and their future.

UPDATE 7:05 pm: Carmelo Anthony is telling everyone around him he will only sign a extension with the New York Knicks, according to Jonathon Abrahms at the New York Times.

That would explain why Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov was saying he did not plan on having a meeting with Anthony — it’s a way to save face for him when he could not get a meeting and a chance to sell his Nets. Pretty much the same tactic he used pulling the Nets out of the negotiations the first time.

This is now the Knicks deal. The only thing that would kill it is the Nuggets deciding not to give Anthony what he has wanted all along just out of spite. Not impossible, but not likely. This seems more and more like just a matter of time.

5:01 pm: Knicks fans may get what they want, what owner James Dolan has pushed hard for — Carmelo Anthony.

The latest reports seem to put the Knicks in the drivers seat for the ‘Melo sweepstakes.

First a quick word of advice: Take every part of this report with liberal helpings of salt. Because at this point — as the Melodrama reaches its climax — everybody is spinning. If not outright lying. Everything changes seemingly by the hour. The truth is more confused here than on the X-Files. And I’m not even sure it’s out there anymore.

Mikhail Prokhorov released a statement Saturday saying he has not met with Carmelo Anthony and has no plans to. At the Saturday media session, Anthony confirmed there were no plans, but according to a tweet from Chris Tomasson of FanHouse ‘Melo said he would have.

“I would have broke ground with him. I would have drunk some water with him. Took a shot of water with him.’’

We need to note that Prokhorov also said before the Nets were totally out of the Anthony negotiations, and now they are back in. Salt, we’re just saying take with salt.

If there is no meeting, the Knicks are in the drivers seat. New Jersey doesn’t want him without a signed extension and he’s not going to sign one without sitting down with the real power behind the Nets.

Anthony said he did speak with Nuggets President Josh Kronke, but said he was told there is no deal on the table yet. That of course is the formal offer, the negotiations of that deal are ongoing.

Parameters of the trade between the Knicks and Nuggets seem to be shifting, likely because of conflicting views in the Knicks organization as to what should be offered. But as Howard Beck pointed out at the New York Times today, owner Dolan is driving the Knicks ‘Melo bus now. The deal will be largely his.

That deal was to be Danilo Gallinari, Wilson Chandler, Raymond Felton, Eddy Curry and his expiring contract, and a to-be-acquired first round pick for Anthony, Chauncey Billups and Sheldon Williams.

But NBA TV reported the Nuggets want Timofey Mozgov and Landry Fields instead of Gallinari. Which would allow the Knicks to keep the prospect with the highest upside) but also it would give them a funky lineup of three forwards).

Anthony was asked if he thought he could fit in with the Knicks. What do you think he was going to say? Tommason tweeted his response.

“If that was to happen, that’s a great system for me. That’s a great system he has.’’

Knicks fans have been counting on that. And they may well get their wish.

James Harden makes impressive chase-down block. Really. (video)

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If we’re going to post all of James Harden‘s defensive lowlights, it’s only fair to acknowledge this impressive block.

Please overlook the fact that Jason Terry is 39 years old.

Steven Adams posterizes Rudy Gobert AND Derrick Favors with one thunderous dunk (video)

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Rudy Gobert and Derrick Favors form an impressive defensive tandem that usually walls off the paint.

If there were any walls here, Steven Adams jumped right over them.

Video Breakdown: How Kyle Lowry dismantles NBA defenses from 3-point range

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Toronto Raptors star Kyle Lowry is arguably the team’s best player thanks in large part to his increase in 3-point shooting ability this season. He’s just above 43 percent from deep this year, much better than his career average of 36 percent. Lowry has increased his 3-point percentage six points over last season, and he’s a big part of why the Raptors are so good on offense, and why they’re a contender in the Eastern Conference.

So how does he do it?

Watch the full video breakdown on Lowry’s 3-point shooting above, or read the text version of the article below.

Early Offense

I looked at a lot of tape of Lowry over the last 3 years and he hasn’t changed much on his shot mechanics. There’s no big change in his sweep or sway toward the basket when he shoots, and he still brings the ball up from his left side.

Part of his leap is be how quickly he’s getting his shots off and how many of his early offense field goal attempts come in the form of 3-pointers.

Lowry has bumped up how many 3-pointers he’s taken in the early offense, recorded here as between 24 and 15 seconds on the shot clock. Year-over-year he’s taken nearly eight percent more of his field goals as three pointers in this range.

This takes form on the court in a couple of ways, both in transition on the fast break and on quick 1 or 2 dribble pull ups off the pick-and-roll.

Transition

With the ball in secondary transition here, Lowry gets a quick screen from DeMarre Carroll to open him up for a 3-point bucket against the Hornets. And that’s still with 18 seconds left on the shot clock!

Pull-up and off-the-bounce jumpers

The other way Lowry scores quickly is off the dribble, with quick pick and rolls. Toronto is great at screen assists — picks leading to an immediate field goal — and have three players in the Top 50 and two in the Top 10 in setting them.

Here, the Celtics defender cuts off Lowry’s attack to the middle of the floor. The screener sets up to Lowry’s right, but then quickly flips it to his left. One dribble, and it’s an easy 3-pointer.

Here against Portland, the Raptors run a two screen setup with one wing and one post. The Blazers make the switch and try to blitz Lowry, but he stays resilient and sinks the bucket with what little space they allow him anyway.

Working with DeMar DeRozan

The other thing that’s been talked about a lot is the gravity of DeMar DeRozan, who himself is having a career year for the Raptors. While Lowry is making a ton of unassisted 3-pointers this year, the Raptors point guard does benefit from DeMar.

Part of that is how good they are in transition together.

Here you can see DeMar bringing the ball up the court with Lowry in front of him. He sets the screen, then fades to the arc. Three Utah Jazz are trying to stop DeRozan, and Lowry is left all alone.

When he’s not the primary ball handler on the break, Lowry will immediately get out to the wing. DeRozan has a way of finding him to get up quick Js.

Of course, in good old set plays the Raptors see this gravity effect as well.

Here Toronto is running another double screen with a guard and a post, but Lowry is one of the screeners. At this point, all three Heat players are guarding against DeRozan’s midrange jumper, leaving just enough daylight for Lowry.

Toronto is also third in the NBA in “hockey” or secondary assists, which means two or more passes leading to a made field goal.

On this baseline out of bounds play, again it’s DeRozan’s gravity that frees up Lowry. As the ball is inbounded, DeRozan sucks three warriors defenders with him, including Lowry’s. Meanwhile, Kyle is running down the baseline to get a bucket off a pass on the opposite side of the floor. All the raps have to do is rotate the ball.

So that’s a little bit on why Kyle Lowry has been so good. It’s been about shot selection, decisiveness, and some practice in addition to the effectiveness of his teammates.

It’s official: Steve Kerr will coach West in All-Star Game

OAKLAND, CA - JANUARY 16:  Head coach Steve Kerr of the Golden State Warriors stands on the side of the court during their game against the Cleveland Cavaliers at ORACLE Arena on January 16, 2017 in Oakland, California. 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 Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
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Steve Kerr likes a good meal, and while he might like some time off more he can at least find good food in New Orleans.

Kerr will be heading there mid-February to coach the West in the All-Star Game (Feb. 19 on TNT). That because official Monday night when the Rockets lost — the Warriors will have the best record in the West of Feb. 5 (the cutoff date). Kerr coached the All-Star Game two years ago, but not last season because of an NBA rule saying the same coach can’t do it in consecutive years (it fell to Gregg Popovich).

This is the same Steve Kerr that over the weekend called the way the players’ treated their All-Star votes was a “mockery.” He was right. Enough players took it seriously that the final selections were very good (the players had Russell Westbrook and James Harden ahead of Stephen Curry, for example), but players cast votes for 283 different players. To be All-Star starters. The 10 best players in the game. There were a lot of joke votes in there, such as the ones for Ben Simmons (who has yet to step on a court this season). There was a vote for Mo Williams. You get the idea.

Kerr likely will be matching wits — if you can call rolling the ball out there for the All-Star game that — with Dwane Casey of the Raptors. Tyronn Lue of the Cavaliers coached last year, so he gets a weekend off. Toronto is currently second in the East and have been there most of the season, although Boston is just 1.5 games back and Atlanta 2.5 back. It’s possible by Super Bowl Sunday that order changes and another coach gets to go have gumbo in New Orleans.