New Jersey Nets v New York Knicks

Carmelo sees himself as a wing, highlights Knicks challenge

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The challenge is pretty clear in New York — when both Carmelo Anthony and Amare Stoudemire have played in a game the past two seasons, the Knicks are 31-40. The two stars have not meshed.

Which brings us to ‘Melo speaking with Ian Begley of ESPNNewYork.com Friday and talking about the Knicks and his Olympic experience. In London he played a lot of four, would we see that in Madison Square Garden this year?

‘I’m a wingman & everyone knows that. But it’s an extra incentive (to play the 4)… It gives us more weapons.”

Anthony was dangerous at the four in the Olympics as part of the USA’s small-ball lineup because he could step out and hit the three, he can put the ball on the floor to create a shot, and he is dangerous in the post. The versatility of his game makes him a tough matchup at the four spot.

But that’s not where he plays when Stoudemire is on the court. Then ‘Melo is a wing and that’s where he played with the Knicks last year — 35.4 percent of his shot attempts came in isolation sets (via MySynergySports). He did post up for 13 percent of his shots (and shot 43 percent, which was better than his 37 percent in isolation) but like he said, he’s a wingman. Everyone knows that. Right?

The Knicks need to use ‘Melo more at the four, they need to take advantage of that versatility. They also need to have Stoudemire at the four and running some pick-and-rolls with Raymond Felton. Stoudemire is very effective as the roll-man (he shot 60 percent in that spot last year and got 13 percent of his shots that way). The Knicks need to run more Felton/Stoudemire action, what was at one point Mike D’Antoni’s bread and butter play.

But Mike Woodson had the offense running through his wingman ‘Melo. You can’t run a high pick and roll if Anthony is pounding the ball on the wing. They could go small with ‘Melo at the five and Amare at the four, but that would be a D’Antoni thing to do. Plus, then you’re not using one of the two best defensive centers in the game in Tyson Chandler (and the Knicks need his defense in the paint).

If the Knicks can get Anthony and Stoudemire to play together they can move on to that second tier in the East (they still are not hanging with the Heat). But I need to see it first, because the evidence so far says the Knicks two stars don’t mix.

Kings co-owner Shaq: Vivek Ranadivé told me George Karl would coach rest of season

Shaquille O'Neal
AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli
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Kings general manager Vlade Divac said keeping George Karl as coach was right move “for now.”

How long is “for now”?

Shaquille O’Neal, a Kings minority owner, shares insight.

Sam Amick of USA Today:

This would mean a little more if Vivek Ranadivé weren’t prone to wild swings. Remember, the Kings said Tyrone Corbin would finish last season as coach before firing him for Karl.

Divac also said in November that Karl would coach the rest of the season, and that came up for debate fewer than three months later.

Shaq’s revelation is as likely to embarrass the Kings in a few weeks as it is to signal Karl’s job security.

Chauncey Billups explains why not every player wants to go home

Dallas Mavericks v Denver Nuggets
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LeBron James did it and shook up the NBA — he returned home to Cleveland. That has led to fantasies other players want to do the same thing: Kevin Durant back to Washington D.C.; DeMar DeRozan or Russell Westbrook back to Los Angeles; Blake Griffin back to Oklahoma. And the list goes on.

Not every player wants to do it.

Chauncey Billups did. Billups is a Denver guy who returned to play for the Nuggets — he gets his number retired Wednesday night in Detroit, a much-deserved honor — but in a letter to his young self at the Players’ Tribune Wednesday he explained that going home is fraught with peril.

“But in reality, playing at home as a 23-year-old professional is going to be less blessing and more curse. (There’s perception, again, for you.) It’s as simple as this: you’re just not going to be ready for Denver to be Your City. You’re going to think you’re ready — and they are too — but, trust me, you won’t be. You’re still going to be so young. You’re still going to be hanging out with your boys, doing your old thing. There are going to be those … hometown distractions. And those distractions will add up.”

“And you have to understand, Chaunce: It’s not just that you made it. It’s that your whole neighborhoodis going to feel like they made it. All of Park Hill is going to feel like they made it. And don’t get me wrong — that’s special. But at the wrong age, it can also be tough. It can be a lot to handle. And you’re going to be at that wrong age. You’re not going to be mature enough yet, or developed enough yet, to take on that mix of environments, those responsibilities, that role.

“You’re not going to be ready to lead.”

There are plenty of guys around the NBA who understand those distractions and how those can get in the way of off-season workouts, of time spent shoring up a weakness or developing a new shot, and how during the season they can be another thing that wears the body down.

Some guys can handle it. Some can’t.

Go read the entire letter from Billups. He talks about getting traded from the Celtics his rookie season, about playing for Mike D’Antoni, about how very rarely do veterans want to mentor younger players because they are fighting for the same piece of the pie.  Billups is honest.

And it’s great that Detroit is rewarding him as they should.

Did Marcus Thornton steal free throws from Rockets teammate Clint Capela?

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Leandro Barbosa – guarding Marcus Thornton and fighting through a Clint Capela screen – was called for a foul in the first quarter of last night’s Warriors-Rockets game.

Thornton went to the line.

Should he have? Or should Capela have?

Perhaps, Thornton and Barbosa tangled, but it certainly appeared the contact primarily occurred between Barbosa and Capela. It looks like Barbosa tries to ram through Capela.

It also appears Capela thought he drew the foul. Watch him step toward the line before seeing Thornton there and taking his spot along the paint.

So, why would Thornton step in? He’s making 89% of his free throws to Capela’s 40%.

I’m honestly surprised players don’t try this maneuver more often. Refs have so much to keep track of. The worst consequence would be the refs shooing away Thornton and bringing Capela to the line.

Thornton made both free throws, but it didn’t matter. Houston was playing Golden State, which rolled to a victory.

Kanye West apologizes to Michael Jordan

performs at the 2015 iHeartRadio Music Festival at MGM Grand Garden Arena on September 18, 2015 in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Ethan Miller/Getty Images for iHeartMedia
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Kanye West – when he isn’t tweeting to invalidate the claims of dozens of women on nothing more than his own suppositions – is tweeting to Michael Jordan

Mark Parker is CEO of Nike, a company that collaborated with West on the Air Yeezy before an unhappy West bolted for Adidas. Jordan, of course, is a Nike ally and known for the Jumpman logo on his brand.

That’s why Kanye rapped in “Facts:”

Yeezy, Yeezy, Yeezy just jumped over Jumpman

Yeezy, Yeezy, Yeezy just jumped over Jumpman

We bring you the important news.

(hat tip: Jovan Buha of Fox Sports)