Baseline to Baseline recaps: The Knicks shot out all the lights in New York

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What you missed while tweeting your proposal to your girlfriend — for 12 hours….

Knicks 118, Celtics 110: Huge win for New York. It’s just not a blueprint easily replicated in the playoffs.

The Knicks were on fire shooting against the best defense in the land — they shot 63.4 percent in the first half and 56.8 percent for the game, they hit 14 three pointers in the first half, and J.R. Smith and Steve Novak combined to hit 15-of-20 from three. The Knicks bench outscored the Celtics bench 55-2. Carmelo Anthony had a triple-double with 35 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists. Everything they seemed to do on offense worked. And it worked from the outside as neither team really racked up points in the paint.

But the Knicks are not going to shoot 19-23 from downtown every night. Boston was not able to make the Knicks pay defensively for their smaller lineup (Boston doesn’t bring a lot of size to the table). The win is important, it moves NY solidly into the seven seed (which likely means Miami in the first round) but this hot shooting was a fun outlier.

Spurs 112, Lakers 91: Remember how last week the Lakers beat the Spurs without Kobe Bryant and the idea that the Lakers size would carry them past the Spurs in the second round of the playoffs seemed to make a lot of sense. Yea, scratch that.

Well, not completely. In the same way that one game last week was not wholly indicative of what a playoff series would be like, neither should this easy Spurs win over the Lakers be seen as how an entire series would play out. But it’s a message that a series between these teams would be a battle. The Spurs took control of the game with an 18-0 run in the second quarter fueled by Laker turnovers — these are still the Spurs, make mistakes against them and they make you pay. Tony Parker had 29 points and 13 assists, he was amazing. The Spurs were their crisp, ball-moving selves on offense and the Lakers defense was befuddled by it.

Pacers 102, Sixers 97: Indiana is the better team here and they are hot — winners of 10 of their last 11 now — but they had to work for this one. It was a fourth quarter 10-1 run that was the key here, and even after that Philly would not go away. Indy’s key was seemed to knock down every jumper they took — Danny Granger was 6-of-8 from three on his way to 24 points on the night (8 in the fourth quarter). Andre Iguodala had a monster game with 23 points and 12 rebounds.

Grizzlies 91, Timberwolves 84: Minnesota put up a real fight despite their depleted roster — a 12-2 run at the start of the fourth quarter made this a game. But a late Memphis push sparked by Rudy Gay’s 9 fourth quarter points (he finished with 28) was the difference. Both teams played good defense in this one.

Pistons 116, Cavaliers 77: The score makes this game look closer than it was. Seriously. It was 100-50 Pistons after three quarters. Brandon Knight led a parade of Pistons in the paint, he had 28 points on the night.

Report: Phil Jackson thought Carmelo Anthony was trying to sabotage him

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In March, Kristaps Porzingis offered a strong endorsement of the triangle.

That put him between then-Knicks president Phil Jackson and forward Carmelo Anthony.

Marc Berman of the New York Post:

According to an NBA source, Anthony was furious to read Porzingis’ positive sentiments on an offense he disdains.

“Melo really chewed him out, lit into him,’’ the source said.

Actually, some Knicks officials believe Anthony’s influence on Porzingis has been detrimental and a key reason why Jackson became adamant about removing him from the roster any way he could.

“Phil thought Carmelo was trying to sabotage him,’’ an NBA source said.

Jackson tried to pressure Anthony out of New York, tweeted criticism of Anthony, sidestepped Anthony’s requests to meet, seemingly pushed an anti-Anthony narrative, publicly called Anthony a ball hog and used racially insensitive language to discuss Anthony’s friend, LeBron James.

But Anthony was trying to sabotage Jackson?

It’s unhealthy for a team’s president and highest-paid players to be on such different pages, but it’s also unhealthy for a team to be caught up on an antiquated offensive system. Anthony acquiescing to Jackson might have made the Knicks’ better in the short term. But if he widened the fractures that eventually caused the Knicks to split from Jackson, Anthony did the team a favor in the long run.

Report: Masai Ujiri’s salary about half what Phil Jackson’s was

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James Dolan isn’t fixing the Knicks’ biggest problem – James Dolan.

But the owner took a step in the right direction a few years ago by pouring a ton of money into the front office. Of course, Dolan did it in the worst way. Offering a five-year, $60 million contract, he didn’t target general managers with proven track records of success. He hired front-office novice Phil Jackson, whose tenure was a wreck.

With Jackson out, will Dolan get it right this time?

The Knicks are reportedly interested in Raptors president Masai Ujiri, but it will be more complicated now, because Ujiri just signed a contract extension and the Knicks are still paying Jackson.

But can New York lure Ujiri from Toronto?

Michael Grange of Sportsnet:

As a source close to MLSE ownership told me Wednesday morning: “Don’t even waste your time on this.”

But as one NBA source put it: “This is not fake news, the Knicks will be coming hard.”

Sam Amick of USA Today:

Ujiri signed a five-year extension worth $32 million last September

Bruce Arthur of the Star:

All that just makes the Knicks more desperate for a new saviour, and league sources indicate the Knicks are already confident Ujiri is coming to New York.

Despite the contract, sources indicate Ujiri can leave if he wants to leave. It’s really up to him.

Ramona Shelburne of ESPN:

As for reports that the Knicks were interested in Toronto Raptors president Masai Ujiri, sources told ESPN that the Knicks have a deep respect for him, but he’s under contract and thus would require permission to speak to and compensation — likely draft picks — which the Knicks would be very reluctant to consider.

Dolan has the fortune to offer Ujiri a significant raise and buy him out of his Raptors contract. Money goes a long way in these negotiations, though it’s unclear how much Dolan would spend on a less-flashy name – and whether the Raptors want more than just cash.

Sending Toronto first-round picks as compensation would hurt the Knicks, but not as much as hiring another incompetent front-office head.

Will Ujiri land in New York? There are so many mixed signals, but it appears the Knicks at least have a chance.

Report: James Harden recruited Chris Paul to Rockets throughout season

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Chris Paul to the Rockets seemed to come out of nowhere.

It didn’t.

Broderick Turner of the Los Angeles Times:

According to one NBA executive, James Harden, the Rockets’ all-star guard, had been recruiting Paul throughout the season. An executive from another team said Harden had already told a fellow NBA player that Paul’s going to Houston was a done deal.

This is how the league works now. James Harden continues to be a enthusiastic recruiter, and that’s a huge asset to the Rockets. It goes toward explaining why Houston general manager Daryl Morey has bestowed so much faith in Harden.

The NBA has simply decided nothing players do constitutes tampering. So, Harden was free to convey Houston’s message to Paul – and this went beyond the typical bonding of two stars. The Rockets had to orchestrate a complex series of transactions, including getting Paul to waive most of his trade bonus, to make the deal work. Harden was part lead recruiter, part middleman communicating with the front office.

Getting Paul was truly the Harden-Morey partnership at its finest.

Report: Thunder have planned Blake Griffin pursuit for months

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The Clippers sound confident about re-signing Blake Griffin in the wake Chris Paul going to the Rockets.

But L.A. will have competition for the star forward – from the Nuggets, Celtics (depending how their primary plan goes), Heat and Griffin’s home-state Thunder.

Royce Young of ESPN:

It’s a shame for the Thunder they backed off their plan to sign Griffin last summer, signing Steven Adams and Victor Oladipo to contract extensions, only to resume it a few months later.

Letting Adams and Oladipo hit unrestricted free agency would have given Oklahoma City an additional $22,514,699 in cap flexibility while maintaining Adams’ and Oladipo’s Bird Rights. That alone wouldn’t have been enough to offer Griffin a max salary, but dumping Enes Kanter, Kyle Singler and either Doug McDermott or Domantas Sabonis would’ve projected to get the Thunder there. In that scenario, Oklahoma City could have also exceeded the cap to re-sign Adams and Oladipo after inking Griffin.

Alas, the Thunder are now limited to dumping contributors that make the team appealing to someone like Griffin in the first place or executing a sign-and-trade. But a sign-and-trade gets complicated. Adams’ salary alone isn’t enough to return Griffin on a max, and it’s not even clear the Clippers – with DeAndre Jordan – would want Adams (though losing Griffin could initiate an even greater rebuild that includes trading Jordan). And again, the Clippers reportedly want to keep Griffin rather than go this route.

This was all foreseeable, though some surprising factors worsened the consequences of the extensions for Oklahoma City.

Griffin seemed more certain last summer to stay in L.A. The 2017-18 salary cap appeared on track to be higher. The new Collective Bargaining Agreement won’t raise cap holds for first-round picks until next year. So, Adams’ deal projects to save the Thunder just $6,425,000 over the next four years relative to a max offer sheet – a paltry sum in the face of the potential cap flexibility lost this year by extending him instead of waiting to re-sign him.

The Thunder making moves earlier than necessary and salary-cap developments turning those plans especially imprudent – where have I heard this one before?