J.R. Smith sounds like blog commenter, says Knicks are contenders

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There are some very thoughtful, basketball smart Knicks fans out there. As a whole they know the game.

And then there are the Knicks fans who vastly overestimate how good their team really is and think the franchise is still thought of like it’s 1972.

Apparently, J.R. Smith falls in the later group. The Knicks swingman and designated gunner off the bench told ESPNNewYork.com that he thinks on paper this Knicks team — which has two Olympians — could be as good as any team in the league.

“Right now with the talent we have, what it says on paper is championship all day. But it’s a matter of us going out there and doing it,” Smith said after appearing at an event in Harlem at Nike’s House of Hoops to promote/give away some Nike sneakers to children.…

Smith believes the moves the Knicks made in the offseason give them enough talent to “compete with anybody.”

Um… no.

First off, an offseason that got you Marcus Camby and Jason Kidd does not make you that much better.

I think this discussion starts with how good you think Carmelo Anthony is — if you think he is a top 5 NBA player and leader then you think the Knicks are contenders. I would call him an elite scorer, but would put him more around 10-12, not on the “you can build a title contender around him” level of LeBron James or Kevin Durant.

Bigger than that, LeBron and Dwyane Wade have worked out the chemistry issues on that team, along with Chris Bosh. They play well off each other now, they succeed together on the court. The Knicks are not there. Things are awkward when ‘Melo and Amare Stoudemire share the floor. Their games do not mesh seamlessly, and until they do you can’t discuss them with the Heat. Or the Celtics. (And even if ‘Melo and Amare figure it out, you run into the problem they are not as good as LeBron and Wade.)

The Knicks are going to be good next year. The high end is a three seed, the low end the six. My guess is they get the four or five spot. They could finally advance out of the first round.

But they are not contenders, sorry J.R. They may not even be the best team in the five boroughs.

Remembering Notre Dame, Laker legend Tommy “the hawk” Hawkins

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Tommy Hawkins passed away recently at the age of 80.

The former NBA player was the first black athlete to earn All-America honors in basketball at Notre Dame (he still holds the school’s total rebounds record), was drafted in the first round, and went on to have a 10-year NBA career playing for the Minneapolis/Los Angeles Lakers as well as the Cincinnati Royals. Los Angeles fans may also remember him as the long time director of communications for the Los Angeles Dodgers after his playing days ended.

The NBA put together this well done video look back at Hawkins’ career.

Celtics’ Brad Stevens said early September tests will show if Thomas ready for camp

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Isaiah Thomas said he expects to be ready for the Celtics’ training camp next month. The guard’s All-NBA season came to an early end in the playoffs when he aggravated a labral tear in his right hip initially suffered back in March. At least the injury did not require surgery.

Players are also about the worst judges of when they will recover from an injury. They pretty much all think they are invincible and will be healthy faster than doctors predict.

Coaches tend to be more pragmatic. Take Boston’s Brad Stevens, who told Chris Mannix on The Vertical Podcast that tests in a couple of weeks will show if Thomas is ready for camp.

“He has another follow-up and another scan in the early part of September. Obviously, it’s been a lot of appropriate rest, a lot of rehab. There have been some good strides here certainly in the last month or few weeks, but we’re not going to know that until after that early September timeframe.”

The Celtics are understandably going to be cautious with Thomas, while Thomas wants to prove he is healthy and has no ill effects from the injury as he enters a contract year (one where he expects to get PAID). Also, the Celtics could use him in camp as they start to figure out how he and Gordon Hayward can share playmaking duties.

Still, from the outset, the timelines have suggested he should be ready for camp in late September. Coaches are just cautious on these things by nature.

Allen Iverson predicts LeBron James will win MVP

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LeBron James has four NBA MVP trophies in his case. (Does he keep that case in his home in Akron or the one in Los Angeles… that’s a question for another day.) Only Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (six) and Michael Jordan (five) have more.

Could LeBron James add a fifth to his case this season?

Allen Iverson said yes at last weekend’s Big3 playoffs in Seattle.

LeBron was fourth in preseason odds to win the MVP at 15/2, behind Russell Westbrook, Kevin Durant, and Kawhi Leonard.

To me, LeBron could be a good bet. If/when Kyrie Irving is traded, the chances of LeBron getting the MVP go up. If LeBron puts up impressive numbers (again) and leads a depleted Cavaliers team to a top two seed in the East, he is certainly going to be in consideration. And should be.

It’s a long season, and personally, I think you need to get midway through the season before seriously considering the year-end awards. But history says LeBron will be in the mix, and Allen Iverson could be proven prophetic.

Phoenix Suns with quality solar eclipse joke on Twitter

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With the cooler-than-I-expected solar eclipse on Monday came a lot of bad solar eclipse jokes on Twitter. Because that’s what Twitter does. Especially the NBA Twitterverse. We knew a lot of “where on the flat earth will Kyrie Irving watch the eclipse?” jokes were coming.

There were a couple of good ones, however.

Appropriately, the Phoenix Suns won the day.

One personal favorite here, an old meme that never goes out of style.