The Taco Bell Skills Challenge

Hornets GM denies CP3 trade talk because it never existed


Here’s an annoying trend. Everyone wants Chris Paul. The Magic, the Lakers, the Knicks, the Thunder, the Wolves, the Harlem Globetrotters, the Saskatchewan River Buffalo, everyone wants Chris Paul. So what happens is every team thinks they could maybe get him since he was unhappy last summer. So they talk about trying to get him, without talking to NOLA yet. Then someone in the team leaks that fact “Oh, we’d love to get Chris Paul” or “We’re trying to get Chris Paul” and then all of a sudden that becomes “BREAKING NEWS: TEAM THAT HAS NO WAY OF GETTING CHRIS PAUL IN TALKS WITH NEW ORLEANS FOR CHRIS PAUL TRADE.”

It’s not that it’s impossible for Paul to wind up traded. Credible reports indicated he was legitimately unhappy last summer and probably does want to join a superteam like the rest of the Super-Best-Friends. But Dell Demps isn’t taking those calls yet. And if he does, he’s responding with a well-crafted team statement of “HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHANO.”

But still, the questions are asked, and he has to respond by telling people no.

From the New Orleans Times-Picayune:

Demps laughed at Internet speculation there has been trade talks between the Hornets and Oklahoma City Thunder regarding point guards Chris Paul and Russell Westbrook.“Thunder GM Sam Presti and I, our offices used to be right next to each other, so we still text each other all the time, and I can assure you that has not been a conversation we’ve had,” Demps said, cracking a smile as he spoke to reporters.

via New Orleans Hornets assistant coach Mike Malone still weighing his options |

First off, do we really need the “internet speculation” part? Is that really that much worse than radio or television speculation? Because television speculation has jumped the gun on the Melo trade and said Dwight Howard was close to signing an extension in the past year, both of which were absurd and untrue at the time.

Second, you can bet this came from OKC. There’s a lot of people around that team who make noise consistently about Paul and how he would fit with the Thunder. Except for, you know, the fact that Russell Westbrook is alive this plan makes perfect sense.

If you’re reading this and you’re someone leaking information about Chris Paul, please try and leak “We’d love to have Chris Paul, along with unicorns, Voltron, and Mr. Snuffleupagus. All of which have the same odds of occurring.” Just try and save us a few brain cells.

Gallinari ready to take big role in new Nuggets offense

Danilo Gallinari, Jimmy Butler
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DENVER (AP) — Danilo Gallinari wants everyone to know this: His surgically repaired left knee, the one that took three procedures to fix and nearly two seasons to fully trust, no longer bothers him.

The Denver Nuggets forward doesn’t need to be on any sort of minutes restriction. He doesn’t need days off during the season. And he certainly doesn’t need to be coddled.

He’s Gallo again, the hard-to-guard Italian playmaker who can knock down the 3-pointer just as easily as drive to the hoop or even post up. He believes he will fit in quite nicely into new coach Michael Malone’s system.

“The thing I’m focused on is trying to get (this team) back to the same level that the Nuggets were when I got to Denver, when we were going to the playoffs easy. When we were clinching a playoff one or two weeks before the season was over,” said Gallinari, who was acquired in the 2011 blockbuster deal that sent Carmelo Anthony to the New York Knicks. “We need to get back to that level.”

Almost seems so long ago, given that the Nuggets have missed the playoffs two straight seasons after consistently making it for nearly a decade.

Gallinari returned last season for the first time since blowing out his knee in a game on April 4, 2013. His minutes were closely monitored early in the season. He never really got completely on track until late last season, when he averaged 20.5 points over the final 10 contests, including a career-high 47 against Dallas. He’s hoping to carry that kind of confidence this season.

“I’m good to go. I was good to go as soon as the beginning of last year,” Gallinari said. “I was not on the same page with the coach that we had.”

That would be Brian Shaw, who was fired last March after 1 1/2 seasons in charge and going 56-85. Exactly why he wasn’t on the same page with Shaw, well, Gallinari preferred the past remain the past.

“I’m ready to play the new season,” he said. “We need to win games, and get back to the same level we were before.”

Gallinari thinks the Nuggets have the personnel to do just that, especially with a rookie point guard in Emmanuel Mudiay and Gallinari’s knee feeling better than it has in a while. He feels like he has some ground to make up, too, since he said that knee robbed him of some of his prime.

“Playing my best basketball right before I got injured,” the 27-year old said. “Now, we’re back to the same level, hopefully better.

“My knee has been feeling great. It felt great last year. Feeling great during the summer. Feeling great now. I just feel good.”

He spent the summer playing for the Italian team at the EuroBasket tournament, where he averaged nearly 18 points a game. In those games, Gallinari saw quite a bit of time at the four spot on the floor, forcing teams to either use a bulkier big man to cover him and risk getting burned on a drive or a smaller player that Gallinari could simply shoot over.

Malone plans to employ a similar type approach, something they discussed over gelato when the coach visited Gallinari in Italy soon after he was hired.

“He’s 6-foot-10. He can handle the ball. He can play pick-and-roll. He can stretch the floor and shoot the 3,” Malone said. “There’s not a lot he can’t do offensively.”

Gallinari wants the responsibility of being the go-to player for the Nuggets this season, especially at crunch time.

“I’ve always been trying to do that, since I came to Denver,” Gallinari said. “That’s what I like to do. I feel good filling those shoes.

“I want to have the ball in my hands. I do want to have the ball in my hands a lot more.”

Knicks’ Rookie Jerian Grant gets up, throws it down (VIDEO)

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The Knicks did well trading for Jerian Grant on date night — he’s going to be able to walk in this year and play quality minutes off the bench.

And, he can get up and throw it down.

Carmelo Anthony had 18 points to lead the Knicks to a 94-88 win over the Sixers.