Carmelo Anthony is not a good defensive player. That’s not just me talking, after ‘Melo was traded from Denver to New York Nuggets coach George Karl told TNT his team would be much better on defense now that they didn’t have to “handle what Carmelo gives you” on that end.
Anthony took exception to that then. He takes exception to people calling out his defense now.
He did that with Sports Illustrated when the Knicks star sat down with them Wednesday. (Go read the whole Q&A, it’s good stuff.)
“Look, defense is about energy and focus at the end of the day. I can’t see any team or any coach just coming out and saying, ‘Oh, we’re just gonna come out and run every play at Melo.’ I never saw that before. I think [Karl] was being strategic in what he did and what he said. In Denver, we weren’t always known for being a defensive team, but that’s because we were running up and down the court. Like I said, I take it for what it’s worth. I store it in the back of my mind.
SI.com: What about the Knicks? As a team, what do you guys have to do better to improve defensively?
“As a team, we’re on our way. You gotta remember, you talking about a group of guys who never played a day with each other and were used to a system that they had already — and that actually was working a little bit for them. And then you get four or five guys who were key components on that team, and they leave and they only get two guys in return — it’s a totally different situation for the guys who came in and the guys who stayed.”
Convinced? Neither am I.
Mike Woodson has brought in to New York make sure they play defense (and to be there to step in if Mike D’Antoni gets axed, but that’s another matter). The problem is neither Melo nor Amar’e Stoudemire are great defenders and the Knicks have no big man in the paint who can play the role of rim defender. They need someone to be their Tyson Chandler or Andrew Bynum or Kendrick Perkins in the paint (to name the bigs from the last three NBA champs).
Knicks fans will get over the novelty of their two stars fast if the wins don’t start to come. And if defense is the issue, ‘Melo’s going to hear about it. A lot.
Kobe Bryant‘s pregame tribute video stole the show in Philadelphia, but Tuesday night was Moses Malone tribute night. The former league MVP and Hall of Famer passed away in September, and his legacy was honored by the Sixers during a halftime ceremony. During the festivities, Malone’s son announced that his No. 2 will be retired by the organization next season.
There’s no question that Malone, one of the greatest players in the history of the sport, deserves to have his number retired. The only relevant question is: why didn’t this happen years ago? The ceremony next season should be good, but it would have been better if they had done it when Malone was alive to participate in it. No Sixers player has worn No. 2 since Malone anyway, but it’s been over 20 years since he last wore a Sixers jersey. Why couldn’t they have found some time in those two decades to have a ceremony and hang a banner?
Perhaps LeBron James‘ most underappreciated skill has been his passing. He is rightly hailed as the most unselfish superstar of his generation, but being a willing passer is only part of it: he’s also as good at it as any point guard in the league. Case in point: this two-handed halfcourt bounce pass on Tuesday night, finding Richard Jefferson for an easy dunk:
Kobe Bryant‘s relationship with his hometown of Philadelphia had its rocky sections — the Kobe’s Lakers beat the Sixers in the 2001 Finals, and then Kobe was booed during the 2002 All-Star Game — but all was forgiven on Tuesday night.
In his final trip to Philly, he was given a framed Lower Merion High School jersey — that’s Kobe’s school, in case you forgot — and it was presented by Dr. J.
Then the fans welcomed him like you see above.
That pumped up Kobe, who scored 13 first quarter points on 5-of-10 shooting, his best quarter of the season.
If you play for the Brooklyn Nets, and your name is not Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, expect you will come up in trade rumors this season.
First up on the block, Bojan Bogdanovic. The report comes from Mike Mazzeo of ESPN.
Bogdanovic is in the first year of a three-year, $11 million deal, which isn’t bad for a guy playing nearly 25 minutes a night and scoring 8.4 points per game. There is a lot of potential in his game, if developed in the right setting — he’s a good shooter out on the wing who works well off the ball. He seems to have regressed this season, but how much of that is due to the Nets and their guard play (and just generally struggling) is up for debate.
Is there going to be interest in him? Probably. As always, it is about the price, what the Nets will demand. Whether the Nets can get anything back they want is up for debate.
Right now a lot of GMs are testing the waters for players, judging the market. That is a long way from a trade happening. But don’t be shocked if the Nets make a deal or two before the February deadline.