Oklahoma City Thunder v Denver Nuggets - Game Three

Kenyon Martin talks about George Karl talking too much


For seven years, Kenyon Martin was a Nugget. For six of those, George Karl was his coach — and those were some pretty good Nuggets teams.

But you don’t have to like someone to work with them. Martin and Karl are not on each other’s Christmas card list.

Karl has remarked multiple times about how the current Nuggets roster — without Martin, without Carmelo Anthony, without J.R. Smith — is easier to coach. The drama is gone, the gunners are gone and Karl couldn’t be much happier with his team that runs, shares the ball and tries to beat you with balance.

Martin didn’t like all those comments, as he told Sam Amick of Sports Illustrated.

“Man, listen, George needs to keep his mouth shut, first and foremost,” Martin said. “Melo don’t play there no more. So Karl shouldn’t be commenting on Melo. If George was such a great coach, then Melo would want to stay. He wouldn’t want to leave.

“If the organization was ran right, he wouldn’t want to leave, so it ain’t Melo. With Melo, not one time when he was there did he bring that in the locker room when all that stuff was going on. Not one day. Everybody made it a bigger deal than it had to be. That’s a good kid. They act like this kid was a cancer, like he came in there and destroyed the locker room and made everybody hate him. No, it wasn’t nothing like that man. And it bothers me for people to be talking about how he’s a selfish player and he has to defend himself.”

So, Karl shouldn’t talk about former players but Martin can talk about former coaches and that’s cool?

Also, Carmelo didn’t bring the trade drama into the locker room? He brought it to the entire organization, from the owner to the ball boy. Anthony’s demand changed the culture in Denver. Could the Nuggets management have handled it better? You bet. But make no mistake, it all started with Anthony. If you don’t think it got into the locker room, well, you are an Anthony apologist.

Which Martin apparently is. That brings us to the comments about Anthony being selfish and questions of if he can fit with Jeremy Lin in New York. Martin has Antimony’s back.

“Smart basketball player, and the best player on that team — hands down. So I don’t understand why people are questioning whether he’s selfish or not. No, the man is not selfish. The man wants to win. He’ll do whatever it takes to win. I don’t think he’ll mess nothing up. He’s going to come in and be Carmelo Anthony.”

I’m with Martin here — Anthony has subjugated is game before to win. He did it in Syracuse to win a national title. He did it on Team USA to win a gold medal. (Although, to be fair, to take a back seat to LeBron James and Kobe Bryant is different than with Jeremy Lin.) But Martin’s right here, Antony is going to do what he thinks is best for the Knicks to win games. We’ll see how that perspective blends in.

Martin is in a great spot the rest of this season with a Clipper team that is a threat in the West. If he brings then what he’s capable they are that much closer. But what will he say about Vinny Del Negro someday?

LeBron James posts photo with Tristan Thompson, sends message to Cavs

2015 NBA Finals - Game Five
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Tristan Thompson is a man without a contract. By not signing the qualifying offer with the Cleveland Cavaliers he put himself in limbo, the rare NBA holdout. Right now his options are to sign the deal on the table (the Cavs still have the five-year, $80 million offer out there), get the Sixers or Blazers to offer him a max contract (which neither team has shown any interest in doing), or hold out and hope the Cavaliers make a better offer. If he holds out for the entire season he becomes a restricted free agent again next summer — exactly like he is right now.

Without signing the qualifying offer and the threat of leaving, Thompson hurt his leverage.

But he has a little leverage. He and his agent Rich Paul had one other card, and it got played Saturday.

Get it done!!!! Straight up. #MissMyBrother @realtristan13

A photo posted by LeBron James (@kingjames) on

LeBron James and Thompson share an agent in Paul. LeBron has largely remained silent through this process but if he wants something in the Cleveland organization, he usually gets it. And he wants Thompson back at practices.

LeBron’s leverage is going to be put to the test. The Cavaliers have let it leak they are not that concerned about LeBron leaving them next summer over this — and they’re right. The damage to LeBron’s brand if he broke the hearts of Cleveland fans again would be crushing, unless he leaves for a very good reason. Overpaying Thompson is not that reason.

However, LeBron’s comment could push the Cavaliers to try to find a compromise.

For the Cavaliers, a lot of how they view all this comes down to their tax bill. The Cavaliers already have $94.9 million in guaranteed salary on the books, putting them $10.2 million over the luxury tax line, at a cost of more than $16.25 million. What this means if (or when) they sign Thompson is his first $10 million in salary would cost them $28.75 million in tax and every dollar above that for the next $5 million costs them $3.75-to-$1. Look at it this way, by my count $14 million this year to Thompson would cost $43.75 million in tax — the total for Thompson at that price is $58 million. While that’s not all on Thompson it’s a lot of cash, and Thompson wants a max deal that starts at more than $16 million a year.

Owner Dan Gilbert is already going to pay the highest tax bill in the NBA this season, but if he balks at those figures it’s hard to blame him.


Hezonja throws down one-handed dunk in preseason debut

Orlando Magic Introduce 2015 NBA Draft Picks
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Mario Hezonja, the No. 5 pick in this year’s draft, has never lacked for confidence. The Croatian guard made his pro debut in the Magic’s preseason game against the Hornets on Saturday and did this:

Between Hezonja, Elfrid Payton, Victor Oladipo and Aaron Gordon, the Magic have a nucleus of young players that has the potential to be a lot of fun. Even if they’re still a few years away from contending, they’re definitely going to be a League Pass favorite this year.