‘Melo wants CP3 in New York. Isn’t this why there’s a lockout?

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This news is not surprising. In fact, I’d be shocked if Carmelo Anthony didn’t say he wants Chris Paul to play for the Knicks. It’s been on the radar since ‘Melo’s wedding and New Yorkers are salivating.

But it also has lockout undertones. It helps explains why we are here.

First, the quote from the New York Post.

“If it works out and he comes here and they allow him to come here, you’ll see a smile from ear to ear,” Anthony said during an appearance in Greenwich Village. “It’s not just me. It’s everybody [in New York]. If he decides to leave New Orleans and goes somewhere else, they’ll be feeling the same way I’m feeling.”

Paul can opt out of his contract with the Hornets after next season and become an unrestricted free agent. Virtually every team in the NBA would have interest; Paul is an elite point guard who you can build around.

But the thought of him leaving a small market for a big one like New York is part of the reason we are sitting without basketball a couple weeks away from when the season should have started. Splitting up the revenue is the big issue, but those “system” and “competitive balance” issues the owners keep talking about come back to things like this.

What LeBron James did — when he held all the power and went to a team loaded with talent — scared small market owners. What Carmelo Anthony did — by holding Denver hostage and forcing a trade to where he wanted — scared small market owners.

Those owners want to prevent that situation. They do not want more CP3 in New York and they want a system that makes sure of it.

You need to get a hold of one of about 10 elite players in the NBA if you are serious about winning an NBA title. Small market owners fear they cannot hold on to those guys and they point to LeBron and ‘Melo as evidence. Small market owners want a system where they think they can keep those guys and they want it to be easier to put move role players in and out around them.

It’s all a fallacy — those small market teams could keep the big stars if they handled it right (see Tim Duncan in San Antonio, see Kevin Durant in Oklahoma City). Also, small markets spend like big markets when they have these stars (see the Cavaliers with LeBron. And regardless of the system, free agents are going to go to contenders, big markets and warm weather cities. Why do you think the Lakers have been a free agent draw for years — fun city, great weather and marketing opportunities. Those things do not go away because of a luxury tax.

But sure, ‘Melo wants Chris Paul in New York. We’ve known that since his wedding. It’ just going to be a lot harder to pull off, now.

Watch Pacers fan boo Paul George during introductions (video)

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Paul George – who told the Pacers he’d leave in free agency, prompting them to trade him to the Thunder – expected boos in his return to Indiana.

Pacers fans delivered.

They’ve also booed him every time he has touched the ball, which will certainly persist.

John Wall returns for Wizards-Grizzlies

AP Photo/Nick Wass
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WASHINGTON (AP) — Point guard John Wall was in the Washington Wizards’ lineup Wednesday night against the Memphis Grizzlies after missing nine games with a sore left knee.

Coach Scott Brooks said Wall would play in the mid-20-minute range, perhaps a bit more.

The Wizards (14-13), currently in first place in the Southeast Division, went 4-5 in Wall’s absence.

“He such a force offensively,” Brooks said of Wall. “He’s a two-way player and he’s one of the few guys in the league that can find open 3-point shooters going 100 miles an hour in transition.”

Wall, 27, is averaging 20.3 points and 9.2 assists per game.

Pacers president Kevin Pritchard likes tweets critical of Paul George trade

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Pacers general manager Kevin Pritchard was widely panned – including by me – for trading Paul George for Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis.

Oops.

Oladipo and Sabonis are killing it while George has underwhelmed.

Upon George’s return to Indiana, Pritchard took the opportunity to gloat. The Pacers general manager recently liked these tweets (hat tip: Matt Ellentuck of SB Nation):

This is petty – and I love it. Pritchard earned the victory lap.

Report: Rival executives still expect Paul George to leave Thunder for Lakers

AP Photo/David Zalubowski
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Paul George has been pretty open about his plans.

He told plenty of people – including the Pacers – he planned to leave for the Lakers in the summer of 2018. Even after the Thunder traded for him, George spoke of the lure of playing for his hometown team.

Of course, George also left the door open to re-signing with Oklahoma City. He proclaimed he’d be dumb to leave if the Thunder reached the conference finals or upset the Warriors.

So far, Oklahoma City (12-14) doesn’t even look like a playoff lock, let alone a team capable of knocking off Golden State or reaching the conference finals. So, cue the inevitable speculation.

Sam Amick of USA Today:

Rival execs still expect Paul to head for the Lakers in free agency

Do these executives have inside information into George’s thinking, or are they just speculating based on already-available information? Some executives are incentivized to drum up the Lakers threat, because they want to trade for George themselves now. If these executives insist George will leave for Los Angeles regardless, they might pry him from Oklahoma City for less.

There’s also a theory George is hyping his desire to sign with the Lakers so a team would have to trade less for him. That got him to the Thunder for what looked like a meager return (but hasn’t been). It might get him to a more favorable situation before the trade deadline without hampering his next team long-term. Of course, this theory isn’t mutually exclusive with George actually signing in Los Angeles. It could just get him better options to choose from this summer.

Surely, the Thunder are trying to parse all this noise. If their season doesn’t turn around, they should explore flipping George rather than risk losing him for nothing next summer. But they should also be wary that he’ll bolt for Los Angeles at first opportunity just because rival executives predict it.