J.R. Smith returns to USA Wednesday, who gets him?

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In the next 24 hours, J.R. Smith will be on the long flight from China — where he signed to play during the lockout — back to the United States. He tweeted this the other day.

Ladies and Gentleman I am happy to tell you my return to the United States is offical! I will be home Febreuary 15, 2012! #Hyped!

But what is interesting is what is written in his bio area at the top of his twitter home page:

NYK? LAL? LAC? CHI? ORL? iNDI?

Those are the known teams interested in signing Smith for the rest of the season.

So, when his plane lands, where does he go next?

The Knicks are considered the frontrunner because they can offer him the $2.5 mini mid-level exception plus plenty of minutes as the starting two guard. I’m not sure even Jeremy Lin can distribute the ball enough to keep Carmelo Anthony and Smith thinking they got enough shots, but there certainly is a fit there. And a big stage to be on.

Chris Paul is taking on the job of lead recruiter for the Clippers, and they too can offer him a starting spot (with Chauncey Billups out injured for the season). The Clippers are a better team than the Knicks, but they can’t offer as much money — L.A. can only offer the veteran’s minimum, and it is pro-rated over a longer period of time than the Knicks offer so it’s considerably less money.

The Pacers are a team whose name popped up in an ESPN article as having interest, and with them being listed by him clearly there has been some contact. The Pacers are below the salary cap and can offer more money than any other team. However, Mike Wells of the Indy Star says the Pacers are not as interested anymore.

ESPN mentions interest by the Timberwolves, but they don’t show up on Smith’s twitter list.

The Lakers need outside shooting and could give Smith minutes at the two (and start Kobe Bryant at the three), but they too can only offer the veteran’s minimum. The Bulls would have fewer minutes to offer once Rip Hamilton comes back, but they are a contender so a ring is involved. Orlando needs another shot creator and certainly has the minutes to give out. None of those teams has much money to give, however.

Look for a decision to be made by the end of the week. And most likely Smith will become part of the “Linsanity” in New York. But Smith can be a bit unpredictable, so don’t bet the rent money on that.

After four years out of NBA, Pacers give Damien Wilkins chance to return

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Consider this the most unexpected signing of the summer.

The last time we saw Damien Wilkins in the NBA, the 6’6″ wing out of the University of Georgia was finishing his ninth NBA season, averaging 6.4 points per game and shooting 33.3 percent from three. He looked like a guy who was done at the NBA level. Since then he has played in China, Spain, and the D-League.

The Pacers are giving him another crack to make an NBA roster. They have signed 37-year-old Wilkins to a non-guaranteed deal, reports the Indy Star.

The Indiana Pacers agreed to a one-year, non-guaranteed veteran minimum deal for close to $2 million with small forward and shooting guard Damien Wilkins, a league source confirmed to IndyStar.

The Pacers have 14 guys on the roster already, and they have at the wing Victor Oladipo, Lance Stephenson, Rodney Stuckey, Bojan Bogdanovic, and Glenn Robinson III, it will be tough for Wilkins to crack that rotation.

But he’ll get his chance, and having a desperate veteran pushing guys in camp never hurts. Maybe he can impress enough in camp that if the Pacers don’t want him another team might. It’s a foot in the door, and that’s all Wilkins can ask at this point.

Watch the Top 10 dunks from the NBA Summer League

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Summer League, at its core, is athletic young players in sloppy games.

That leads to massive dunks. Here are the top 10, which John Collins deserving the top spot.

Report: Carmelo Anthony willing to waive $8 million trade kicker for Rockets

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Carmelo Anthony does not want to return to the Knicks. The Knicks want to trade Carmelo Anthony. The Houston Rockets would like to trade for Carmelo Anthony.

So far all that will has not gotten a deal nearly as close to done as has been reported, I was told by sources. There are major hurdles, and the Knicks don’t like the offers they’ve gotten so far, which is why they pulled back (not because of the Scott Perry hiring or some desire to change Anthony’s mind). As has been reported before, Anthony is willing to waive his no trade clause for the right team to get the deal done, Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN said on The Jump.

“My sources tell me he’s willing to waive the trade kicker, which is worth around $8 million, so that makes a little easier for Houston to do a trade.”

That’s nice. It doesn’t solve the core problem with a Rockets’ trade.

The Rockets are over the cap so the only way this trade gets done is they send out enough salary to match and create space for Anthony. The Rockets could do that with a combination of Eric Gordon, Clint Capela, Trevor Ariza, and some expiring deals, but that cuts way too deeply into the roster and hurts the Rockets more than it helps. What the Rockets need to do in this trade is move Ryan Anderson, and his three-years, $60 million — except the Knicks don’t want that contract on their books (even though Anderson is a good player when healthy). So now the two sides are trying to find a third team that would take on Anderson’s contract, but the Rockets are going to have to give up sweeteners — a couple first round picks or a pick and a quality young player — that they don’t have to get the deal done. So enter a fourth team to get the sweeteners, but that team will want things back, and quickly the house of cards falls apart.

On top of all that, the Knicks still don’t think they’re getting enough back in the trade to want to do it. Yet, anyway.

Over on the left coast, there is Portland saying “look at us, look at us!” They would be willing to trade for Anthony, as C.J. McCollum and Damian Lillard have made clear.

One massive problem with that: Anthony has not been interested in waiving his no trade clause for anyone but Cleveland and Houston.

If he changes his mind — and that’s a huge, unlikely “if” — maybe a deal could be found. The Blazers already have a top-five payroll in the NBA (may be top two when all is said and done) and that means they have to send out salary as well, someone like Evan Turner and Meyers Leonard (moving Allen Crabbe is the dream, but also highly unlikely). The Knicks could have interest in Turner, the Blazers have picks to throw in, and if a third team picked up Leonard maybe we’re close to something. But until Anthony makes it clear he would accept a trade to Portland, something he has yet to do, this is all a moot exercize.

But hey, Anthony will waive his trade kicker. So there’s that.

Can Stephen Curry shoot the ball into the sun roof of a car? Did you even need to ask?

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Stephen Curry has been getting up buckets the past week, working on his game. Sort of. It’s been a bit unconventional.

First, he finished off an alley-oop pass from Tony Romo on the American Century golf course in Lake Tahoe.

Then on Thursday he was filming an Infinity car commercial and had to shoot one into the sun roof from what looks to be 15-20 feet away. He drains it.

Of course he made that, he’s basically the Meadowlark Lemon of a new generation, but without the hook shot.