Woodson not worried at all that ‘Melo, Amare can coexist

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The Knicks are 8-1 to start the season and it isn’t a fluke — this is a team that plays legitimately good defense and with Carmelo Anthony at the four (and Raymond Felton playing smartly at the point).

But there remains a big question looming about this team — what happens when Amare Stoudemire returns?

If you start Anthony at the four and move ‘Melo back to the three, are the Knicks going to look a lot like last season’s offensively challenged Knicks that were destined for a first round loss. The ones with Stoudemire looking lost and ‘Melo jacking long, contested twos.

Coach Mike Woodson isn’t worried — while the pair struggled together in Mike D’Antoni’s system they were 8-2 together for Woodson. Here is what he told Newsday (hat tip to SLAM).

“I can’t think about what happened before I took over. As a coach, I feel good about both of them playing together on the floor at the same time. That’s not going to change.”

There been talk — and I think smart talk — about bringing Stoudemire off the bench, but it doesn’t sound like Woodson is thinking that way long term. When asked more directly Woodson pretty much dodged the question.

“I’m going to address that when I get to that point,” Woodson said. “Right now, I’m just taking it a day at a time and working the guys we have in uniform as we speak.”

He can dodge it for now. But when Stoudemire returns from his October knee surgery at some point next month he is going to have to deal with it.

And the answer to that question of how the two stars play together, will determine the rest of the Knicks season.

Warriors pose for photos with Jahlil Okafor’s dad’s ‘FREE JAH’ shirt

AP Photo/Chris Szagola
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Jahlil Okafor‘s father has not been shy about speaking out on his son’s behalf. NBA players are advocating for the 76ers to grant Okafor, who’s out of the rotation and on an expiring contract, his desired trade or buyout.

When both join forces…

Kevin Durant, Draymond Green and Stephen Curry appear to really enjoy Chukwudi Okafor’s shirt. That doesn’t mean they’re necessarily calling on Philadelphia to do anything. But they hadn’t to know how it’d be perceived.

It’s easy to predict free agents will avoid the 76ers as a result of the Okafor situation, but few anticipate getting stuck similarly. Players overwhelmingly value money, winning, role and location. If Golden State’s stars are applying any external pressure, it shouldn’t really move Philadelphia more than anything that has already been said and done.

A couple of Lonzo Ball’s triple-double assists look dubious (video)

Harry How/Getty Images
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Lonzo Ball draws outsized attention because his father, LaVar Ball, lures onlookers and because the rookie plays for the high-profile Los Angeles Lakers.

So, when Lonzo gets a triple-double – like his 11-points, 16-rebound, 11-assists game against the Nuggets yesterday – it draws scrutiny.

Mo Dakhil of The Jump Ball:

The NBA defines an assist as a “pass that directly leads to a basket. … An assist can be awarded for a basket scored after the ball has been dribbled if the player’s pass led to the field goal being made.”

I wouldn’t describe either of those passing as leading directly to a basket. Ball’s teammates each hold the ball for a moment after receiving the pass then take two dribbles against set defenses.

But assists are subjective, and the Lakers aren’t alone in offering a home-court scorekeeping advantage.

Kyle Neubeck of Philly Voice

So, criticize/laugh at the Lakers. But your favorite team probably manipulates assists in its favor, too.

Robin Lopez and T.J. Warren exchange contact, heated words (video)

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Robin Lopez whacked T.J. Warren in the head while chasing an offensive rebound. Warren didn’t like that, so he ran to the opposite end of the court and shoved Lopez to the floor. A heated confrontation ensued, though it didn’t escalate beyond yelling.

Warren received a flagrant foul, and Lopez was hit with a technical in the Suns’ 113-105 win over the Bulls.

Lakers blow 5-on-1 fastbreak (video)

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Corey Brewer is better at finishing fastbreaks than leading them.

Nice defense by Emmanuel Mudiay, too.

But at least the Lakers won.