How Deron Williams almost became a Knick (instead of ‘Melo)

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If the Denver Nuggets front office had gotten their wishes — if they could have traded Carmelo Anthony to the New Jersey Nets for Derrick Favors and picks rather than to New York — then Deron Williams would be a Knick today.

In one of the infinite alternate universes that is the reality, but in this one just consider the story Sam Amick tells at NBA Confidential a fun postscript on the Melodrama.

As (Jazz GM Kevin) O’Connor told (Knicks president Donnie) Walsh approximately an hour before the game and would later repeat in an interview with NBA Confidential, he targeted the Nets’ and Knicks’ assets and decided to play the waiting game. Somebody would lose in the Anthony sweepstakes, and that team would immediately hear from O’Connor to discuss a marvelous Plan B….

While Walsh is certainly thrilled to land Anthony, he admitted the notion of landing Williams would have been appealing had he known he was on the market. Asked if things might have turned out differently if he was privy to that information, Walsh said with a shrug when asked by NBA Confidential, “it might have.”

O’Conner said the very public way the Nuggets went about this process was part of what allowed him to track what was and was not available when he would call.

Knicks fans love what they have with Anthony, but would Williams have been a better fit with Amar’e Stoudemire and in the Mike D’Antoni offense?

We’ll never know. Consider it a bit of fan fiction if you want.

Go read the story, which has a lengthy Q&A with O’Conner that includes some thoughts about where the Jazz go from here.

Warriors pose for photos with Jahlil Okafor’s dad’s ‘FREE JAH’ shirt

AP Photo/Chris Szagola
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Jahlil Okafor‘s father has not been shy about speaking out on his son’s behalf. NBA players are advocating for the 76ers to grant Okafor, who’s out of the rotation and on an expiring contract, his desired trade or buyout.

When both join forces…

Kevin Durant, Draymond Green and Stephen Curry appear to really enjoy Chukwudi Okafor’s shirt. That doesn’t mean they’re necessarily calling on Philadelphia to do anything. But they hadn’t to know how it’d be perceived.

It’s easy to predict free agents will avoid the 76ers as a result of the Okafor situation, but few anticipate getting stuck similarly. Players overwhelmingly value money, winning, role and location. If Golden State’s stars are applying any external pressure, it shouldn’t really move Philadelphia more than anything that has already been said and done.

A couple of Lonzo Ball’s triple-double assists look dubious (video)

Harry How/Getty Images
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Lonzo Ball draws outsized attention because his father, LaVar Ball, lures onlookers and because the rookie plays for the high-profile Los Angeles Lakers.

So, when Lonzo gets a triple-double – like his 11-points, 16-rebound, 11-assists game against the Nuggets yesterday – it draws scrutiny.

Mo Dakhil of The Jump Ball:

The NBA defines an assist as a “pass that directly leads to a basket. … An assist can be awarded for a basket scored after the ball has been dribbled if the player’s pass led to the field goal being made.”

I wouldn’t describe either of those passing as leading directly to a basket. Ball’s teammates each hold the ball for a moment after receiving the pass then take two dribbles against set defenses.

But assists are subjective, and the Lakers aren’t alone in offering a home-court scorekeeping advantage.

Kyle Neubeck of Philly Voice

So, criticize/laugh at the Lakers. But your favorite team probably manipulates assists in its favor, too.

Robin Lopez and T.J. Warren exchange contact, heated words (video)

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Robin Lopez whacked T.J. Warren in the head while chasing an offensive rebound. Warren didn’t like that, so he ran to the opposite end of the court and shoved Lopez to the floor. A heated confrontation ensued, though it didn’t escalate beyond yelling.

Warren received a flagrant foul, and Lopez was hit with a technical in the Suns’ 113-105 win over the Bulls.

Lakers blow 5-on-1 fastbreak (video)

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Corey Brewer is better at finishing fastbreaks than leading them.

Nice defense by Emmanuel Mudiay, too.

But at least the Lakers won.