Report: Knicks about to land Tyson Chandler

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If the Knicks are going to compete with the Heat and Bulls as the elite in the East during the next few years, they were going to have to find a way to play much better defense.

They may be very close to solving that problem — but it comes with a price. Potentially a steep price.

The Knicks are very close to a deal that will land them defensive center Tyson Chandler, according to multiple reports. Sources told Marc Stein of ESPN that the deal is “98 percent” done. That despite a huge offer and effort from the Golden State Warriors — even the Warriors are saying Chandler is likely to go to the Knicks, reports Matt Steinmetz at CSNBayArea.com.

The problem is that to create room for Chandler the Knicks would have to get Chauncey Billups off the books — a development that has stunned Billups, reports David Aldridge of NBA.com.

Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo sums this all up well.

To add Chandler, the Knicks will either use their amnesty clause to waive Chauncey Billups and his $14.2 million salary or they will trade him, sources said. The Knicks have privately told people that if they trade Billups – who has said he doesn’t want to leave New York – it will be to a “good” team. If the Dallas Mavericks do a sign-and-trade with Chandler, they could conceivably get Billups in return.

If the Knicks amnesty Billups, teams under the salary cap can bid on him and claim him off waivers. Billups’ agent, Andy Miller, said his client is upset about that prospect.

“He’s irate under the circumstances,” Miller said. “He felt this would be his final destination, and he was promised that he would be playing for a team that was going to be competing for the playoffs. He has no intention of being open-minded about any possible situation where a team would claim him off waivers unless it’s a team he chooses himself. Buyer beware.”

Sucks for Billups, but either way this is a good move for the Knicks. With their style of play — Mike D’Antoni’s up-tempo offense — and their personnel, the Knicks need a defensive stopper to control the paint. Chandler can do that as well as anyone, and he runs the floor well for a big man. Chandler is good on the pick-and-roll as well, which could add an interesting offensive wrinkle with Carmelo Anthony.

The question becomes who plays point guard for the Knicks? Is Toney Douglas really your starter now? With Iman Shumpert behind him?

Then there is the Chris Paul to New York situation — if the Knicks sign Chandler to a multi-year deal the will not have the room to sign Chris Paul as a free agent this summer (they would have maybe the mid-level exception at best).

Let me repeat that again for Knicks fans — sign Chandler and you CANNOT IN ANY WAY get Chris Paul as a free agent next summer.

The Knicks are still trying to work a trade for Paul and have suggested an Amare Stoudemire for Paul trade, Stein reports at ESPN. That is not happening. The Hornets want to get younger and rebuild if they trade Paul, Stoudemire is older, expensive, and with a history of injuries. He makes no sense for the Hornets at all. They will not do that deal.

But the Knicks seem intent on Chandler. And that is going to make them a much better team.

As a side note, without Chandler there is no way the Mavericks will repeat as champions. Unless you think Brendan Haywood can be the new Tyson Chandler… in which case we would tell you its time to switch medications because this one is making you delirious.

Nike “very concerned” after LeBron James’ jersey rips on opening night

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In the team’s first preseason game, the jersey of the Lakers’ Tyler Ennis was torn in the back with a tug from an opponent. Everyone made tearaway jersey jokes and moved on, thinking it was a one-off situation.

Then LeBron James‘ jersey ripped down the back on opening night, on national television.

Now Nike is looking into the issue, reports Darren Rovell of ESPN.

Nearly three days after one of its jerseys tore in the first regular-season game of its new deal with the NBA, Nike released a statement Friday expressing worry about the issue, without offering insight as to what happened or what will be done.

“The quality and performance of all our products are of utmost importance,” the company said in a statement. “We are obviously very concerned to see any game day jersey tear and are working with the NBA and teams to avoid this happening in the future.”

This is the first year Nike has the NBA apparel contract, having just taken it over from Adidas. They made the jerseys similar to what had been done for the 2016 Rio Olympics, where there were no issues, but these jerseys are lighter than the former Adidas ones. It’s unclear what, if any, changes could be coming.

Like many of the jerseys from opening night, LeBron’s ripped one is being auctioned by the NBA to raise money for hurricane relief.

Reports: Rockets think Chris Paul could be sidelined for up to a month

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The Rockets’ opening night win over the Warriors was a boost to their confidence — they believe they can challenge the Warriors next May in the playoffs.

Chris Paul is a big part of that plan, which is why we may not see him for up to a month (even though he is listed as day-to-day, and officially only out Saturday). With that, the Rockets are considering adding another point guard to the roster. Marc Stein of the New York Times and Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN broke the news Friday afternoon.

At the top of the free agent point guard list is Jameer Nelson, the veteran was just waived by Denver to make room for Richard Jefferson.

C.J. Watson and Trey Burke also are available.

Chris Paul and Harden still need to smooth out playing together, something that will take time on the court together. CP3 being out until mid-November is not ideal, but the Rockets are thinking about May, and ideally June, so they will sacrifice a few games now to have him healthy then.

Dwight Howard still feeling ‘super’ expectations with Hornets

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DETROIT – Dwight Howard went from leading Orlando in the NBA Finals to playing in star-studded Los Angeles to joining a Houston team that also fancied itself a contender to being the highest-paid player in his hometown Atlanta to… landing in Charlotte, a small-market franchise with modest ambitions.

The spotlight finally off the former No. 1 pick, Howard doesn’t feel reduced pressure.

“Everybody expects me to be Superman every single night,” Howard said.

Howard is diving into his new situation – his third team in three years – headfirst. He’s leading pregame huddles and the Hornets onto the court.

“I have the most experience,” said Howard, in his 14th season. “So, it’s not to come in and fit in. It’s to come in and be a leader.”

This is the latest referendum on Howard. Despite eight All-NBA selections (most of them first-team) and three Defensive Player of the Year awards, he faces relentless criticism of his legacy.

His exit from the Magic was so ugly, it’s known as the Dwightmare. His feuding with the Lakers great is the stuff of legend in Kobe Bryant mythology. Howard never clicked with James Harden with the Rockets. The Hawks unloaded him for a paltry return in what was more salary rearrangement than salary dump, and his former teammates reportedly cheered.

Howard just seems to rub people the wrong way.

That makes his latest test in Charlotte so interesting. Howard is supplanting maybe Kemba Walker as the face of the team and definitely Cody Zeller as starting center. The Hornets have found success with Zeller, going 63-53 when he starts and 57-73 otherwise the last three seasons.

“The nature of his game, he plays in a way to help other people play better,” Hornets coach Steve Clifford said of Zeller. “He is a screener. He is a ball-mover.”

In other words, the type of player teammates love.

Is Howard?

Howard is still solidly productive. In Charlotte’s season-opening loss to the Pistons, he posted 10 points, 15 rebounds and two blocks – and ruffled a few feathers. Vince Ellis of the Detroit Free Press:

https://twitter.com/Vincent_Ellis56/status/921100491362365440

Dirty-work players who irritate opponents are revered. High-priced players who irritate their teammates are loathed.

Howard walks a fine line.

He returned to Atlanta with emotion and expectations. By the end of his time with the Hawks, everyone seemed unhappy. Still, Howard says he’s grateful for the opportunity to play in front of people, especially his grandparents, who watched him grow up.

“Atlanta is going to be my home,” Howard said. “The Hawks is always going to be my favorite team.”

It’s just never easy for Howard.

Even a career Basketball Reference pegs as 99% likely to end in the Hall of Fame based on his tangible accomplishments stirs controversy.

“He’s a Hall of Famer right now if he never played another game,” Clifford said.

Said Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy, who coached Howard in Orlando: “It’s mind-boggling to me that would be any debate there.”

It’s probably easier for Van Gundy and Howard to recall their time together fondly than it was to enjoy it while partnered. Clifford, who was an assistant in Orlando and Los Angeles while Howard was there, is just getting into his time as Howard’s head coach.

It’s those middle moments, in the throes of long seasons, that have proven difficult for Howard and those around him.

Here he is in Charlotte, hosting the Hawks tonight, and facing another challenge. The Hornets would probably be happy just making the playoffs and ecstatic advancing, which would be their first playoff-series victory since reemerging as the Bobcats in 2004. Howard, who has reached three conference finals, is counting on himself to lead them there – even if nobody else is anymore.

Kobe Bryant still has it, bounces shot in from near half court

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This was a Nike gala, an event with a basketball theme. The court was lit up from below, there were tables at half court, and people had drinks in their hands.

Kobe Bryant was there, stylishly dressed in black. So was famous model Winnie Harlow.

Know that regardless of the setting, Kobe still has game.