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Dwight Howard’s letter to Orlando fans doesn’t go over well. Of course.


Dwight Howard could not win at this point. He took out a full-page ad to thank the fans in Orlando, but that was never going to smooth things over. Not even close. It was going to stoke the anger.

Howard couldn’t win. If he does nothing he looks like he doesn’t care, if he buys the ad fans will shred him for it. He backed himself into that corner with his actions of the past six months.

George Diaz, a blogger at the Orlando Sentinel, did shred Howard for the ad (even at points using an old Sam Kinison bit).

He chose to make it a melodrama, enabled in some part by the reluctance of Magic management to trade him and be done with it. Still Howard is gone and he shares the brunt of everyone’s anger.

His parting shot involves him posing with a Los Angeles Lakers uniform. And so it comes across as awfully awkward for him to say that “although my career with the Magic has come to a close, my love for the city and the people that make it beautiful will never end.”

Sorry Dwight. It is now an unrequited love.

Again, Howard couldn’t win. He has a lot more of this coming to him this next season, and it is on Howard and those advising him. They got what they wanted, a trade to a contender in a major market (if not the one they targeted), but they sacrificed a pretty clean NBA reputation to get him there.

It was never going to end well in Orlando, it never does when a superstar forces themselves out of town. Howard did that. But he went through it like he was following a script, right down to the ad in the local paper. Howard’s problem was both he strayed from the script (waiving his opt-out rights) and he was an unconvincing actor in it.

Now he needs to repair the image, something winning can help with. But in the short term he needs to keep his head down for a while. Just play ball. Do what you do well. And understand that Orlando is never going to forgive you.

Gallinari ready to take big role in new Nuggets offense

Danilo Gallinari, Jimmy Butler
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DENVER (AP) — Danilo Gallinari wants everyone to know this: His surgically repaired left knee, the one that took three procedures to fix and nearly two seasons to fully trust, no longer bothers him.

The Denver Nuggets forward doesn’t need to be on any sort of minutes restriction. He doesn’t need days off during the season. And he certainly doesn’t need to be coddled.

He’s Gallo again, the hard-to-guard Italian playmaker who can knock down the 3-pointer just as easily as drive to the hoop or even post up. He believes he will fit in quite nicely into new coach Michael Malone’s system.

“The thing I’m focused on is trying to get (this team) back to the same level that the Nuggets were when I got to Denver, when we were going to the playoffs easy. When we were clinching a playoff one or two weeks before the season was over,” said Gallinari, who was acquired in the 2011 blockbuster deal that sent Carmelo Anthony to the New York Knicks. “We need to get back to that level.”

Almost seems so long ago, given that the Nuggets have missed the playoffs two straight seasons after consistently making it for nearly a decade.

Gallinari returned last season for the first time since blowing out his knee in a game on April 4, 2013. His minutes were closely monitored early in the season. He never really got completely on track until late last season, when he averaged 20.5 points over the final 10 contests, including a career-high 47 against Dallas. He’s hoping to carry that kind of confidence this season.

“I’m good to go. I was good to go as soon as the beginning of last year,” Gallinari said. “I was not on the same page with the coach that we had.”

That would be Brian Shaw, who was fired last March after 1 1/2 seasons in charge and going 56-85. Exactly why he wasn’t on the same page with Shaw, well, Gallinari preferred the past remain the past.

“I’m ready to play the new season,” he said. “We need to win games, and get back to the same level we were before.”

Gallinari thinks the Nuggets have the personnel to do just that, especially with a rookie point guard in Emmanuel Mudiay and Gallinari’s knee feeling better than it has in a while. He feels like he has some ground to make up, too, since he said that knee robbed him of some of his prime.

“Playing my best basketball right before I got injured,” the 27-year old said. “Now, we’re back to the same level, hopefully better.

“My knee has been feeling great. It felt great last year. Feeling great during the summer. Feeling great now. I just feel good.”

He spent the summer playing for the Italian team at the EuroBasket tournament, where he averaged nearly 18 points a game. In those games, Gallinari saw quite a bit of time at the four spot on the floor, forcing teams to either use a bulkier big man to cover him and risk getting burned on a drive or a smaller player that Gallinari could simply shoot over.

Malone plans to employ a similar type approach, something they discussed over gelato when the coach visited Gallinari in Italy soon after he was hired.

“He’s 6-foot-10. He can handle the ball. He can play pick-and-roll. He can stretch the floor and shoot the 3,” Malone said. “There’s not a lot he can’t do offensively.”

Gallinari wants the responsibility of being the go-to player for the Nuggets this season, especially at crunch time.

“I’ve always been trying to do that, since I came to Denver,” Gallinari said. “That’s what I like to do. I feel good filling those shoes.

“I want to have the ball in my hands. I do want to have the ball in my hands a lot more.”

Knicks’ Rookie Jerian Grant gets up, throws it down (VIDEO)

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The Knicks did well trading for Jerian Grant on date night — he’s going to be able to walk in this year and play quality minutes off the bench.

And, he can get up and throw it down.

Carmelo Anthony had 18 points to lead the Knicks to a 94-88 win over the Sixers.