Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe gave his first-place MVP vote to Carmelo Anthony, making Washburn the only voter not to choose LeBron James, who won the award with 120 of 121 first-place votes.
Huge kudos to Washburn for explaining himself – he’s under no obligation to reveal that he was the Melo voter – but his defense of his vote didn’t exactly stop the criticism. Via the New York Daily News:
“As far as the guy in Boston, I don’t know why he catches so much flak for that,” Anthony said following Game 2. “He has the right to vote for whoever he want. LeBron won the MVP. Why is everybody so mad that he didn’t win it unanimously? . . . Thank you.”
This whole controversy has been unfair to Melo, who just had the best season of his career. Because of Washburn’s vote, there has been a large discussion about why LeBron is better than Melo. But so what if Melo isn’t as good as LeBron? That’s not exactly a huge flaw. But the onus on finding Melo’s flaws detracts from his successful season when we should be celebrating his scoring title career-low turnover percentage.
And now, just as the fire was dying down, Melo reignites it, even though I get he was just answering a question. In doing so, he says something I believe is wrong.
Nobody is really mad LeBron didn’t win unanimously. Everyone dumbfounded a quality basketball journalist – and Washburn is one – could be so wrong. I won’t rehash all the reasoning, which Zach Lowe of Grantland laid out very well, but it’s ridiculous to believe Melo was more deserving of this award than LeBron.
Instead of directing more questions to Melo (though, one was perfectly fair), if we’re going to keep this controversy alive, let’s further question Washburn. I’ll start. If Melo had won MVP – if, to Washburn’s shock, a majority of voters had agreed with him – does Washburn really believe the right player would have been recognized in history as the 2013 NBA MVP?
Kevin Durant might have left the Thunder, in part, because he grew tired of playing with Russell Westbrook.
But does that mean nobody wants to play with Westbrook?
Presented with that claim, Oklahoma City center Enes Kanter refuted it strongly:
Of course, many players want to play with Russell Westbrook. He’s a great player and even better competitor. People want to be around someone so maniacal about winning and capable of delivering.
But there’s an obvious difference between Kanter and Durant. It’s much easier for a pick-and-roll big man than a superstar wing to play with Westbrook.
Westbrook tends to over-dribble, and he can be selfish. I’d understand Durant preferring a team with more ball movement like the Warriors.
Kanter doesn’t have the cachet to pick any team at any salary like Durant did. Of his options, Kanter is probably genuinely happy to play with Westbrook. And the Thunder should be happy to have Westbrook (as long as they do). His strengths far outweigh his flaws.
No scoring star seamlessly blend with each other. Even LeBron James and Dwyane Wade — close friends and one an elite passer — struggled to mesh early in their Heat days. It’s just hard when there’s one ball.
So, it’s unfair to kill Westbrook for this drawback to his game. Maybe he’d click better with another star who’s more aggressive than Durant. And it’s not even as if Westbrook and Durant failed together. Oklahoma City won a lot of games with those two.
Plenty of players would sign up to replace Durant as Westbrook’s partner in crime.
Amar’e Stoudemire — despite spending more time and having more success with the Suns — signed with the Knicks to retire.
Why not Phoenix?
John Gambadoro of Arizona Sports 98.7:
Stoudemire was linked to the Suns last year, but a return never happened.
It didn’t make more sense now. Phoenix already has 15 players, the regular-season roster limit. John Jenkins and Alan Williams have unguaranteed deals, but why waive one for Stoudemire? The Suns are semi-rebuilding, and Tyson Chandler already serves as a veteran big.
There’s a reason Stoudemire retired rather then sign somewhere. Maybe nobody wanted him.
But it’s also only July, and teams are still filling out their rosters. If Stoudemire wants to keep playing, he might have opportunities later, especially after the trade deadline. He’s just 33. There’s now reason to believe his retirement won’t stick.
Derek Fisher is already stumping for his second head-coaching job.
Fisher has done plenty since retiring as a player — getting hired by the Knicks, getting fired by the Knicks and in between being attacked by Matt Barnes and finding another controversy about player relations.
All the while, Fisher counted against the cap for the Thunder, his last NBA team.
Oklahoma City finally renounced him to sign Alex Abrines.
Albert Nahmad of Heat Hoops:
This is one of my favorite salary-cap quirks, explained in further detail here.
These are becoming fewer and further between, because teams are using cap room more frequently as the salary cap skyrockets. Gone are the days of a team operating above the cap for a dozen straight years.
There’s also even less utility in old cap holds now that a player must have played the prior season for a team to be used in a sign-and-trade. (Not that these holds were useful except the rarest of occasions prior, anyway.)
Fisher’s quick transition from playing to coaching helped make this an exception, allowing this weird (and trivial) transaction.
Where will the NBA hold the 2017 All-Star game?
New Orleans? Probably.
New York/Brooklyn or Chicago? Maybe.
One more maybe: Las Vegas.
Scott Kusher of The Advocate:
The NBA held All-Star Weekend in Las Vegas in 2007. By all accounts, it was wild.
I’d be surprised if the league returned the event to Las Vegas, but at this point, I’d really be surprised by any option besides New Orleans.