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.

Dennis Schroder insists reeling Hawks OK despite seven-game skid

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ATLANTA (AP) — Dennis Schroder insists the Atlanta Hawks will be fine when their three injures starters return.

The point guard also believes the Eastern Conference playoff standings are too tight for the Hawks to wait for Paul Millsap, Kent Bazemore and Thabo Sefolosha to return from their injuries.

Schroder said the Hawks must snap their seven-game losing streak with their current limited roster, which will be without the three starters for at least one more game.

“I’m saying now we have to change something,” Schroder said Monday. “We can’t wait until they come back. Maybe it’s too late then.”

The Hawks are in a three-way tie for fifth in the Eastern Conference playoff standings. They are only 2 games ahead of eighth-place Miami, which currently has the final playoff spot, and 2 + ahead of ninth-place Chicago.

The Hawks see they could drop out of the playoff standings if they don’t quickly end the losing streak.

“The NBA isn’t easy,” Schroder said. “You’ve got to win games to make it in the playoffs.”

Coach Mike Budenholzer said Millsap, the four-time All-Star who has missed five straight games with left knee tightness, and the other two injured starters will not play in Tuesday night’s home game against Phoenix.

Bazemore, who has missed four straight games with a right knee bone bruise, said he hopes to return for Wednesday’s game at Philadelphia.

Sefolosha, held out against the Nets with a right groin strain, was seen working on an elliptical machine at the portion of Monday’s practice open to media. There is no timetable on Millsap’s return.

Before the losing streak, which matches the team’s longest of the season, the Hawks were competing with Toronto for the fourth seed in the East and home-court advantage in the first round of the playoffs.

Home-court advantage is now a distant dream.

Atlanta is tied with Milwaukee and Indiana for fifth following Sunday’s 107-92 loss to New Jersey, which owns the NBA’s worst record.

The latest ugly loss left Atlanta in what Bazemore described as “a dark time.” Even so, he insists the players’ spirit is not broken.

Bazemore pointed to players taking extra shots after practice and said “My teammates are still laughing. … We’re still alive and kicking.”

Budenholzer’s message is for players to avoid trying to do too much to fill the void left by the injured starters.

“I think to some degree we’re all pressing,” Budenholzer said. “Coaches pressing, each guy individually. It comes from actually a good place. They want to win. They want to have success and it’s just remembering that the best way for us to have success is to do it as a group and do it together.”

Budenholzer said rookie Taurean Price, who had 17 points, six rebounds and three steals in his first start against the Nets, likely will remain in the lineup against Phoenix.

Ersan Ilyasova and Tim Hardaway Jr. combined to make only 8 of 30 shots against the Nets. Atlanta’s depleted bench was outscored 46-7 by the Nets’ backups.

Budenholzer said Bazemore is “very close” to playing and could be cleared after “another good day.”

Bazemore said has done “pretty much everything” on the court in testing his knee, including change-of-direction drills.

“I’m starting to feel good,” Bazemore said. “… Things are trending in the right direction.”

Sixers’ Ben Simmons throws down impressive dunk in pregame workout (VIDEO)

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Consider this a look at what might have been this past season. Or a look into what will be next season.

Philadelphia has shut No. 1 pick Ben Simmons down for the season as they wait for the Jones fracture in his foot to heal properly, but he is traveling with the team and working out on its current road trip. Before the game in Indianapolis, Simmons got in a workout on the court.

Then casually threw down a between-the-legs, off the backboard self alley-oop.

What does that mean? Nothing. Other than next season in Philadelphia could be a lot of fun.

Serge Ibaka says he asked Magic to play more small ball with him at center

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The Magic traded Victor Oladipo and the rights to Domantas Sabonis for Serge Ibaka then, after a failed half season in Orlando, flipped an unhappy Ibaka for a lesser shooting guard (Terrence Ross) and a lesser draft pick (the lower of the Raptors’ and Clippers’ first-rounders).

What went wrong in Orlando?

The Magic built a roster overloaded on big men, forcing Ibaka to play power forward nearly exclusively, next to Bismack Biyombo or Nikola Vucevic. It a bad plan that worked predictably poorly.

And Ibaka indicates he knew it would, asking Orlando coach Frank Vogel to play more center.

Ibaka, via Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel:

“At some point, I spoke with Coach about playing small ball,” Ibaka said. “At some point, he agreed with me. But we never did it. We never did it.”

The Magic used Ibaka just 88 minutes with neither Biyombo nor Vucevic on the court, per nbawoy!. Orlando played opponents even in that span — not bad for a team that has been for a team that been outscored by 6.3 points per 100 possessions, better than only the Nets and Lakers, this season.

But reducing minutes of Biyombo and Vucevic would have created its own complications. They wouldn’t have been happy to sit.

One way or another, this roster was going to cause problems. That’s why Orlando general manager Rob Hennigan is on the hot seat.

Report: Becky Hammon rejects offer to become Florida women’s head coach, stays with Spurs

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Becky Hammon, the NBA’s first female full-time coach, faced an intriguing choice: Remain a Spurs assistant or become the head coach of Florida’s women’s basketball team.

She apparently chose the former.

Mike Robinson of Swish Appeal:

Hammon has decided she will not take the coaching position at Florida. Instead, she will remain an assistant coach with the San Antonio Spurs under Gregg Popovich.

The Florida job would’ve offered a higher salary and full charge of a program.

It also would’ve taken her further from her goal of becoming the NBA’s first female head coach.

Perhaps unfairly, it would have been too easy for NBA teams to forget about Hammon if she returned to women’s basketball. Her road is already difficulty enough. An opportunity for teams to typecast her as only a women’s-basketball coach could’ve debilitated her NBA-coaching prospects

Hammon still faces a long road, but the more time she spends coaching men, the more barriers she erases. Her staying in San Antonio goes a long way toward normalizing the idea of women coaching in the NBA.