Report: Sixers trying to trade for Amare Stoudemire

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The Philadelphia 76ers are one of the more surprising teams in the NBA this season considering they’ve leapt out to a 14-6 record and currently lead the Atlantic Division by four games at this early juncture in the season. In an attempt to prove that they’re in it for the long haul, though, they’re apparently pursuing trades that they believe will make them title contenders.

Pursuing may actually be too strong of a word, but CSN Philadelphia’s John Finger reported on Sunday afternoon that the Sixers have put out feelers to the Knicks regarding the availability of big man Amare Stoudemire. Stoudemire is averaging 17.7 points and 8.2 rebounds so far this season, but is shooting an abnormally low 43 percent from the field as he tries to find his role in the Knicks lineup next to Carmelo Anthony.

It sounds like it’s probably a long shot, but there’s always something to be learned when NBA trade rumors are leaked — and, sometimes, where there’s smoke, the actual fire isn’t far behind.

According to a league source, the Sixers have inquired about Stoudemire, though it was categorized as “due diligence.” Nothing is said to be imminent or even in the early stages other than just talk, the source said. Nevertheless, in past seasons the Sixers were reportedly discussing trade scenarios with the Phoenix Suns in order to acquire Stoudemire.

It isn’t likely the Knicks would consider trading Stoudemire, but there have been a couple of reports already this season that indicate the former Suns big man isn’t happily coexisting with Anthony in the Big Apple. If that is indeed the case, it’d make sense for the Knicks to try and find a new partner for ‘Melo to work with as the Knicks attempt to dig themselves out of a bad start to the season.

It’s unclear exactly what the Sixers would have to give up to get Stoudemire — aside from Andre Iguodala, Jrue Holiday and Evan Turner, there aren’t a lot of of big names on the Philadelphia roster — but it would probably have to be quite a bit. For a young team that seems to be turning a corner, is it really worth adding Stoudemire while busting up the team’s core?

Either way, it’ll be intriguing to see what the market is for Stoudemire if he’s actually put on the trading block … or even if the Knicks will continue to listen to offers for their centerpiece power forward, really.

Top-10 college recruit Anfernee Simmons may go straight to NBA

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A couple of years back, Thon Maker decided to play a post-graduate fifth year of prep school ball, not go to a major college, then jump to the NBA. He could because he had graduated a year before and was 19, the Bucks took him in the lottery, and so far it has worked out for everyone.

Now another recruit, Anfernee Simmons, may follow that path. Simmons is spending this year at the IMG Academy, and the combo guard is considered a top-10 recruit in this class.

Jonathan Givony of ESPN broke the story after speaking to Simmons.

“Some people have brought it to my attention,” Simons told ESPN during an interview in Connecticut, where his team was participating in the National Prep Showcase. “As long as the opportunity is there, I will do it.

“I can see myself going to the NBA combine, if I have enough teams to actually invite me or recommend me for the combine and enough teams want to bring me for workouts. I really need to hit the weight room hard and get a little stronger.”

This is a sensible approach — find out where you roughly fall in the draft, then make a decision. Listen to the teams, not friends/family/agents. If you have a first-round guarantee, then go pro.

Givony and others describe the 6’3″ Simmons as talented but still a project for the NBA level, starting with the fact he needs to get stronger (something true of most rookies). Not that it really scares off teams any longer, many are willing to develop and wait on a player with potential (he could spend a chunk of his first season in the G-League). Simmons is fast when he drives, and has a smooth release on his jumper. If he gets stronger and his game matures, a team may take a risk on him.

Shorthanded Cavaliers now without Iman Shumpert for 5-7 days

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Isaiah Thomas is still rehabbing his hip, he should return next month.

With him out, Tyronn Lue and the Cavaliers have had to lean more on Derrick Rose at the point, except he has a sprained ankle that is going to have him out a couple more weeks.

That has forced Iman Shumpert into the starting point guard role in Cleveland, although he mostly is there for defense/shooting as the playmaking duties fall to LeBron James.

Now the Cavaliers will have to get by without Shumpert for a while with water on the knee, Cleveland announced on Saturday. He left Friday night’s Cavs win against the Clippers with a sore knee and did not return

“Additional examination and imaging today at Cleveland Clinic Sports Health confirmed left knee effusion. He will be out 5-7 days while he undergoes treatment and rehabilitation,” the Cavaliers said in a statement.

This is going to force Lue to play Jose Calderon, who he has kept glued to the bench this season despite the injuries. J.R. Smith and Dwyane Wade will need to take on more run as well.

The Celtics have won four in a row — thanks to a more focused offense — and face the Pistons, Nets, and Hornets this week.

Joakim Noah on if he can play at former level: “Probably not. Probably not.”

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For three games, Joakim Noah has been clear of the 20-game PED suspension he started at the end of last season.

For three games, he has not even dressed for the Knicks.

This is the former Defensive Player of the Year who was already on the decline when Phil Jackson gave him a $72 million contract that is now the worst in the NBA. Noah is out of the rotation, where Enes Kanter starts at center (with Kristaps Porzingis at the four) and Kyle O’Quinn coming off the bench.

Noah told Marc Berman of the New York Post he is frustrated but gets the situation.

“I’ll be all right. I’ll be all right,’’ Noah said in his first comments since being reinstated. “I understand the situation. I’m going to make the best of it.”

When asked if he still feels he can be close to the player he was in his 2013-14 campaign, Noah said: “Probably not. Probably not. You know. I can help. I feel like I could help this team and that’s just my reality. But I just want to just be the best that I can be.

“It’s not about trying to be what I was three, four years ago, because it’s not the reality.”

Noah is a smart and mature player, he understands his reality, and he has the exact attitude you want a veteran off the bench. He can help in practices, he can help because he understands how to play defense and can teach it, and eventually, he will get a chance on the court. He is not part of the future of the Knicks, but he can guide these young players.

The Knicks new management will look for a way to unload Noah’s contract, but considering the sweeteners the Knicks would need to throw in to get a team to deal for Noah, it’s unlikely we see any action on that front for a long time.

Frustrated Gregg Popovich calls all three referees “f****** blind”

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The Spurs completed an amazing comeback win against the Thunder Friday night, coming from 23 down to knock off the Thunder when Carmelo Anthony‘s game-tying three was just a two because his toe was on the line.

Gregg Popovich was into this one.

So much so that when he didn’t like an out-of-bounds call he made sure all three officials knew exactly how blind he thought they were.

The best part of this is Popovich covering his eyes, just to really emphasize his point.

We’re really going to miss Pop when he steps away to live at a winery full time.