New York Knicks Introduce Carmelo Anthony

PBT’s trade deadline report card

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In the last few days, nearly 10 percent of the players in the NBA got traded. Think about that. Apparently the NBA GMs have been watching their baseball counterparts too much.

We won’t really know how all this will shake out for a few months, but what follows is our first impressions. And grades. We like to give things grades.

Atlanta Hawks (Out: Mike Bibby, Jordan Crawford, Maurice Evans. In: Kirk Hinrich, Hilton Armstrong.) The Atlanta Hawks needed to upgrade at the point guard spot and Hinrich is an upgrade. He’s a better defender, a better decision maker, and can knock down the three almost as well as Bibby. This is a good trade for the Hawks from a talent perspective. They still don/t match up with Celtics/Heat/Bulls, but they got better. Grade: B

Boston Celtics (Out: Kendrick Perkins, Nate Robinson, Marquis Daniels, Semih Erden, and Luke Harangody. In: Jeff Green, Nenad Krstic, a first round pick [top 10 protected] from the Clippers, a 2nd round pick from the Cavaliers, and cash from the Kings.) We talked about this, Boston got worse now for the hopes of easing the transition after the big three leave. The question is how much worse and can Danny Ainge find any scraps out there bought out by other teams that can help? I don’t like messing with the core in the middle of the trade deadline. Grade C-

Charlotte Bobcats (Out: Gerald Wallace, Nazr Mohammed. In: Joel Przybilla, Dante Cunningham, D.J. White and Morris Peterson.) This was all about saving money; Wallace was owed $21 million over the next two seasons. But in doing so the team got worse, they were 1.5 games out of the last playoff spot and they will now take a huge step back. Grade: D.

Chicago Bulls (Out: James Johnson. In: first round pick from Toronto.) Nice move all around. Johnson was out of the Bulls rotation but is starting in Toronto. He gets a chance, and the Bulls get a pick they could use. Grade: B

Cleveland Cavaliers (Out: Mo Williams, Jamario Moon. In: Baron Davis, first round pick.) Yes for this was all about the pick, and they were paying for that by taking on Davis. I get why you do it. But I think an unhappy, unmotivated Davis is a bigger drain on your organization than the Cavs realize. Grade: D

Denver Nuggets (Out: Carmelo Anthony, Chauncey Billups. In: Raymond Felton, Danilo Gallinari, Timofey Mozgov, Wilson Chandler, Kosta Koufos, first round pick) Their had was forced and at the end of the day they did fairly well under the circumstances. They will make a playoff push this year to at least get in, but they are in rebuilding mode now and need to make bold moves in the future. Grade B-

Golden State Warriors (Out: Brandan Wright, Dan Gadzuric. In: Troy Murphy.) Murphy is about to be bought out, this was about saving money. Which is nice in these recessionary times. Grade: C

Houston Rockets (Out: Aaron Brooks, Shane Battier. In: Goran Dragic, Hasheem Thabeet, first-round pick from Memphis.) Your big winner here could be Chase Budinger, who will get more minutes at the three with Battier gone. Budinger dropped 30 the other night and could really blossom now. Aside that, they get a pick to rebuild on and a quality point guard in Dragic and a pick. You would have thought Battier could have drawn more in, but it helps start the rebuilding and isn’t terrible. Grade: B-

Los Angeles Clippers (Out: Baron Davis, first round pick. In: Mo Williams, Jamario Moon.) Fantastic trade for the Clippers, just to get out from under the Baron Davis contract. Mo Williams can play and more importantly spread the floor with his three-point shooting. Grade: A-

Minnesota Timberwolves (Out: Corey Brewer. In: Anthony Randolph, Eddy Curry.) It’s probably not going to make a big difference. Brewer was out of the rotation. Anthony Randolph will get some run and we’ll see if he can start to live up to that potential. Probably not, but no harm in the risk. Grade: B

New Jersey Nets (Out: Devin Harris, Derrick Favors, Troy Murphy, two first-round picks. In: Deron Williams, Brandan Wright, Dan Gadzuric.) They needed to get a big piece to start building around and they got a very good one. It didn’t come cheap, but they punked the Knicks a little in the process so it worked out well. Grade: A

New Orleans Hornets (Out: Marcus Thornton. In: Carl Landry.) The Hornets were looking for depth along the front line, they got it with a professional and hard working player. Good pick up. Grade: B+

New York Knicks (Out: Raymond Felton, Danilo Gallinari, Timofey Mozgov, Corey Brewer, Wilson Chandler, Eddy Curry. In: Carmelo Anthony, Chauncey Billups, Renaldo Balkman, Shelden Williams.) They wanted the second star, they got it in Carmelo Anthony. There are serious questions about fit, there are a lot of steps left for them, but the Knicks are going to be entertaining if nothing else from here on out. Grade B+

Oklahoma City Thunder (Out: Jeff Green, Nenad Krstic. In: Kendrick Perkins, Nazr Mohammed.) This was a brilliant trade. Sure, a bit of a risk because Perkins is coming off an injury and could be a free agent, but the Thunder addressed their biggest need — a defensive presence in the paint — with one of the best in the game at it. They just got a whole lot better and the West playoffs just got a lot more interesting. Grade: A

Phoenix Suns (Out: Goran Dragic, first round pick. In: Aaron Brooks.) Does this make them that much better? Not a bad move but I still don’t see what the big picture plan is. Grade: C

Portland Trail Blazers (Out: Joel Przybilla, Dante Cunningham. In: Gerald Wallace.) The Blazers did well with this one. They are taking on more long term salary but Wallace and Nicolas Batum give them fantastic defensive wing players. Man, if Brandon Roy were healthy this team would be scary. Grade A-

Sacramento Kings (Out: Carl Landry. In: Marcus Thornton, Marquis Daniels.) Landry is the kind of solid professional that fits better on a playoff team than the rebuilding Kings. Thornton showed a lot of promise as a rookie, but the return of Chris Paul and a change of role threw him off. We’ll see how he adjusts to playing with Tyreke Evans (when he returns) but it’s not a bad risk for the Kings. Daniels is not expected to play the rest of this season, that was a money thing. Grade: B

Toronto Raptors (Out: first round pick. In: James Johnson.) Really depends on how the shooter pans out. He started and scored nine against the Bulls, but did they really need to give up a first for him? This is a time-will-tell thing, but it’s good to see him get the chance. Grade C

Utah Jazz (Out: Deron Williams. In: Derrick Favors, Devin Harris, two first-round picks.) The Jazz had a challenge with Williams. Owner Greg Miller said he saw what happened with LeBron, with Carmelo Anthony and he didn’t want that to happen with the Jazz and Deron. So they were insanely proactive. They got a decent amount back, you never get equal money for a superstar but they got some nice pieces. But the hardest piece to get is the superstar and they traded theirs away before they had to. Grade: D+

Washington Wizards (Out: Kirk Hinrich, Hilton Armstrong. In: Mike Bibby, Jordan Crawford, Maurice Evans.) We like Jordan Crawford, he could be the kind of shooter that could develop into the kind of guy to go with John Wall. Mike Bibby will not be happy backing up Wall, being a veteran on a losing team, or much of anything else. The Wizards do save a little money. There was demand for Hinrich, could the Wizards have done better? Grade: C-

LeBron James on surpassing Michael Jordan: “It’s a personal goal”

CLEVELAND, OH - SEPTEMBER 26: LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers during media day at Cleveland Clinic Courts on September 26, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio. 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. Mandatory copyright notice. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
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Since he was a teenager, LeBron James has been compared to Michael Jordan. That comparison has usually been used as a way to cut him down or explain why he’s not in the same class, but that’s changed since he won his third championship, and first in Cleveland, in June. Now, LeBron has started to be a lot more open about his desire to eventually surpass Jordan. He said so in an interview with the AP’s Tom Withers after practice on Tuesday:

Now that LeBron James has won a championship for the ages, he’s set a loftier goal:

Catching Michael Jordan.

Long flattered to be mentioned in the same company with Jordan and other NBA legends, James has been hesitant to publicly acknowledge that he wants to be remembered as the greatest in league history.

It’s time now.

“It’s a personal goal,” James told The Associated Press on Monday. “I just never brought it up. It’s my own personal goal to be able to be greater than great. I think that should be everybody’s personal goal.”

Now that James has indisputably cemented his legacy as one of the handful of greatest players ever to play the game, he has a lot less to lose by openly talking about these things. Five years ago, he would have gotten killed for bringing it up. Now? It just seems plausible more than anything else.

Kevin Durant says Nike didn’t influence his free-agency decision

OAKLAND, CA - SEPTEMBER 26:  Kevin Durant #35 of the Golden State Warriors poses for NBA team photographer Noah Graham during the Golden State Warriors Media Day at the Warriors Practice Facility on September 26, 2016 in Oakland, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
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Many different factors went into Kevin Durant‘s decision this summer to leave the Oklahoma City Thunder for the Golden State Warriors — basketball fit, location, his friendships with Andre Iguodala and Draymond Green, and more. But one thing he wants to make sure you know didn’t influence him is Nike. Durant told reporters this week that the shoe company, which he endorses, didn’t steer him one way or another in free agency, and they didn’t even know his plans beforehand.

It’s a little hard to believe that Nike had zero advance knowledge of Durant’s plans — if not a hard answer, at least a strong indication of which way he was leaning. Durant was one of the most popular players in the league in Oklahoma City, so Nike would have been fine either way. But his presence in Golden State, a much bigger market and the dominant story in the NBA this season, will only help them. It doesn’t hurt, either, that they now have one of their biggest athletes in the same market as Stephen Curry, who had been taking advantage of all the attention on the Warriors to raise Under Armour’s profile. Now, Nike can get some of that spotlight back in the Bay Area.

Barnes, Bogut highlight latest round of changes for Mavs

CLEVELAND, OH - JUNE 08:  Harrison Barnes #40 of the Golden State Warriors reacts in Game 3 of the 2016 NBA Finals against the Cleveland Cavaliers at Quicken Loans Arena on June 8, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio. 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 Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
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DALLAS (AP) Harrison Barnes and Andrew Bogut are in, Chandler Parsons and Zaza Pachulia are out and Dallas coach Rick Carlisle has a retooled roster for the sixth consecutive time since winning a championship.

“Well, we love it,” Carlisle said at media day this week as someone chuckled. “What’s more exciting than getting seven new guys? New blood. It’s fresh every year.

“Really, that wasn’t meant to be a joke,” he added. “If you view it as a negative, there’s a pretty good chance it’s going to be a negative. I don’t look at it that way.”

The Mavericks have made the playoffs all but one season since the constant turnover started after owner Mark Cuban chose salary cap flexibility over keeping a few key players when a new labor agreement was reached six months after his team won the title in 2011.

But Dallas still hasn’t won a postseason series since beating Miami in six games in those NBA Finals.

Repeated efforts to land big names in free agency failed, which this year led to the additions of Barnes and Bogut from 2015 champion Golden State after the Warriors lured Kevin Durant from Oklahoma City and had to unload both starters to make cap room for the four-time NBA scoring champion.

Barnes headlines the group of newcomers because he’ll be a top option on offense after signing a four-year, $94 million max contract. Over his four seasons with the Warriors, he was always a role player behind Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson.

“It’s going to be bigger expectations and I’m going to have a larger role on this team,” Barnes said. “I feel like we have a lot of pieces this year, either coming back off injury, guys who are motivated, have a lot to prove. So hopefully we can all come together and do something special.”

There’s actually some stability in the starting five because point guard Deron Williams is back for a second season with his hometown team.

Nowitzki, going into his 19th season at age 38, says Williams was the best player on the team at times last season, and the Mavericks missed him in their five-game loss to Oklahoma City. He was limited by a sports hernia injury that required offseason surgery.

Parsons signed a max deal with Memphis, and Pachulia went to the Warriors after the trade that landed Dallas the 7-footer Bogut, who should be a much stronger shot-blocking presence than his predecessor.

The changes fit the formula of at least two new starters each season going back to the title year.

“There are similarities to other years,” Carlisle said. “The ability to add Bogut and Barnes was huge for us. We caught some good luck on that.”

The other notable newcomer is Curry’s younger brother, Seth Curry, who is on his fifth team in his fourth season but finally had a more prominent role last season in Sacramento. Former Baylor standout Quincy Acy is in Dallas after bouncing around his first four years.

The Mavericks are deep at guard with holders J.J. Barea and Devin Harris behind Williams and Wes Matthews, in his second season as the shooting guard and now more than a year removed from tearing an Achilles tendon his final season in Portland.

Also returning are athletic young forwards Justin Anderson and Dwight Powell along with 7-2 Tunisian center Salah Mejri, a surprising shot-blocking presence last season as a 30-year-old rookie.

“They’re definitely athletes and we should be able to have a great defensive lineup once I’m out,” said Nowitzki, poking fun at his defensive skills. “I think we have a (backup) lineup out there that could be really, really good, and obviously youth and athleticism is a big part.”

Barnes wanted to be a part of it even though the Mavericks appear further from championship contention than other Western Conference teams.

“I think when you look at what this franchise has done year in, year out, stable on their ship,” Barnes said. “And be able to learn from a guy named Dirk who’s done it year in, year out. He’s pretty much built this place through his work ethic.”

And now Nowitzki is getting used to another new collection of teammates.

Follow Schuyler Dixon on Twitter at https://twitter.com/apschuyler

Jazz’s Dante Exum says his knee is completely healed from 2015 ACL tear

MIAMI, FL - DECEMBER 17:  Dante Exum #11 of the Utah Jazz drives to the lane during a game against the Miami Heat at American Airlines Arena on December 17, 2014 in Miami, Florida. 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. Mandatory copyright notice:  (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
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After a promising rookie season, Dante Exum missed all of 2015-16 rehabbing a torn left ACL he suffered during an exhibition game with the Australian national team in summer 2015. As the Jazz kick off training camp, Exum says he’s fully recovered after his year off and he’s ready to go.

Via Jody Gennessy of the Deseret News:

“I was just excited to get back out there,” Exum said after the first of two practices Tuesday. “I was feeling good. … I was just ready to come out there, talk when I can and run between every drill.”

Both his attitude and his body were at 100 percent as he returned from a yearlong rehab that followed his September 2015 surgery on his left knee that had been injured in a friendly international game with the Australian team.

With the Jazz’s trade for George Hill over the summer, Exum won’t have to be the starting point guard, which will take some pressure off of him to get back to full strength right away. A torn ACL is something that usually takes time to return from, and having guard depth to ease his workload will help with the transition. If the Jazz get good production out of Exum, it will be a bonus for what looks to be one of the most exciting young teams in the Western Conference.