Mike Woodson confident in his ability to coach any player, including Metta World Peace

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LAS VEGAS — Knicks head coach Mike Woodson is with the team in Las Vegas for Summer League, and with reports of mutual interest between New York and Metta World Peace now that he’s cleared amnesty waivers, Woodson was asked if he thought he might have a knack for coaching players with, shall we say, a more unique outlook on things.

Woodson was especially successful with a similarly quirky player in J.R. Smith, who had a monster year for the Knicks last season that resulted in him taking home Sixth Man of the Year honors. Woodson said it’s all about getting a player to know their place on the team in order for them to be successful.

“I know his name has been circling out there,” Woodson said of the World Peace-to-the-Knicks talk. “I can coach anybody. I’ve coached guys from 18, 19, 20 year old young men and built the team in Atlanta, and that’s tough for a first-time coach. So I experienced that. I don’t think there’s a player I can’t coach if he’s going to be willing to be coached. I think it’s just a matter of pushing the right buttons and getting guys to understand their roles.”

Woodson likes what World Peace is able to bring to a team, but reminded that it’s a little early in the process to be putting him in a Knicks uniform just yet.

“I like his skill set a lot,” Woodson said. “I think a lot of teams have liked his skill set over the years. He does a little bit of everything, but again, it’s a moot point until he’s available if that may be the case.”

Woodson would seem just fine with adding World Peace, or any player that could help his team for that matter — just as long as they share the same vision in achieving the ultimate goal that he does.

“If anybody comes to this team, they’ve got to understand it’s all about team, man,” he said. “It’s not about individuals here. It’s not about me as a coach, it’s about the New York franchise trying to win an NBA title. If you understand that, we’ve got a chance.”

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Some additional Knicks notes from Woodson’s few minutes with the media:

– Woodson knows how good Carmelo Anthony was when playing the power forward position last season, but he’s at least willing to entertain the possibility of playing newly-acquired big man Andrea Bargnani alongside him in the lineup.

“They could [start together],” he said. “We’ll evaluate everything. It’ll really be a little bit different this year because I know we’ve been great with Melo at the four, but Bargnani — he brings a different dimension to our team, I think.

“I’ve got to get him up to speed defensively, but just like Melo’s a nightmare for people at the four, [Bargnani is] a nightmare for players at the four and five,” Woodson said. “I’ve just got to get him in and get him acclimated to what we’re doing, and get him comfortable — that’s the key with him. I’ve got to get him back to feeling good about himself. I think he’s an excellent ballplayer.”

– Kenyon Martin played valuable minutes for the Knicks last season, and is currently an unrestricted free agent. But that doesn’t mean that New York has ruled out bringing him back for next season.

“Kenyon is still majorly in our picture,” Woodson said. “I like everything about what Kenyon did for our ball club last season, so we’re still in that evaluation stage, as well.”

– Woodson said he has been impressed with the play of both Toure Murry and Jeremy Tyler with the Knicks’ Summer League squad, and wants to try to bring them both to training camp before next season.

Magic Johnson: “The only player that we… would probably not move is Brandon Ingram”

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The Lakers’ Brandon Ingram had flashes, but he largely struggled through his rookie season. He averaged 9.4 points per game, shot 40 percent from the floor, he had a true shooting percentage of 47.4 and a PER of 8.5, and he finished with the fifth worst “value over replacement player” number in the NBA. Watch him play, and he looked better than those numbers — he did better with the “eye test” — showing some tenacity, and his offense improved toward the end of the season. Still, his rookie season tempered expectations somewhat.

Except amongst the Lakers’ front office.

They have been high on him all the way through, higher than D'Angelo Russell, and that’s what Lakers president Magic Johnson said on ESPN Radio in Los Angeles.

“I would say probably the only player that we would say, hey, we would probably not move is Brandon Ingram,” Johnson, the Lakers president of basketball operations said Thursday in a radio interview with ESPN Los Angeles. “I think that we’re excited about Brandon, his length, his size, his agility, his athleticism. And then when you think about, you know, he was a baby coming in, in his first year last season and we see that he really has a high ceiling and we’re excited about what he can possibly turn into.”

First off, no this doesn’t mean if the Lakers draft Lonzo Ball No. 2 (as expected) they will look to trade Russell. Expect them to see if those two can play together. It means the Lakers think just one of the guys on the roster is a potential key piece of a contender. Russell, Jordan Clarkson, Julius Randle and on down the line may fit into the rotation, but they are not seen as cornerstone pieces that can’t be moved.

Is Ingram really a cornerstone? The jury is still out, but does anyone feel as confident he will be a star as they did a season ago when he was drafted?

Ingram certainly needs to get stronger, something the team and he have worked on (and will focus on this summer). He also was young coming into the league, and with his style of game it was going to take him a little time to find how he fit in the NBA. He wasn’t going to come in and just overwhelm opponents with athleticism, it was going to be a process for him. Like nearly every rookie, his shooting needs to be more consistent.

The questions are how high is his ceiling, and can the Lakers develop him?

This summer and into next season those will come into focus more, but the early returns don’t have some of us as optimistic as Magic.

Josh McRoberts opting into final year of Heat contract

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Heat power forward Josh McRoberts has missed 165 games over the last three years due to injury.

So, the 30-year-old sure isn’t turning down a guaranteed $6,021,175 salary.

Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald:

Any long shot chance of Josh McRoberts voiding his Heat contract was eliminated Tuesday when agent Mike Conley told The Miami Herald that McRoberts will exercise his opt-in and return to the Heat for $6.021 million next season.

Miami will have major cap space this summer with Chris Bosh coming off the books. At this point, McRoberts’ salary is just an impediment to even more room to add an impact player.

The Heat could again try trading McRoberts, but they’ll likely have to attach a positive asset just to dump him. They could also waive and stretch him.

But if his salary doesn’t come between Miami and a big-time free agent this summer, perhaps McRoberts returns for one last chance at helping the Heat on the floor with his passing and outside shooting.

Mike Brown thinks it’s “cute” Tyronn Lue thinks Celtics’ sets harder to defend than Warriors

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Celtics’ coach Brad Steven is already one of the best in the NBA. His out of time out plays are brilliant, and his Boston team’s flow of ball and player movement is among the best in the league.

It’s those things that were giving the Cavaliers trouble in the first half of Game 4 Tuesday, and ultimately prompted this comment from Tyronn Lue.

“We’re just focused on Boston. The stuff they’re running, it’s harder to defend than Golden State’s [offense] for me.”

Connor Letourneau of the San Francisco Chronicle asked Mike Brown about that.

You can certainly make the case that the Celtics have a wider variety in their offense, and that with Isaiah Thomas out the rather balanced, anyone can score nature of the Celtics is challenging to defend for a team with inconsistent help defense like the Cavaliers.

But Boston is running these sets with Marcus Smart and Jaylen Brown and Kelly Olynyk. Golden State will use ball and player movement to create space for Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson. Which is to say, Golden State is tougher to defend because the space they need to make you pay is much smaller. And even if you do everything right the Warriors may just score anyway.

I get what Lue was trying to say, but don’t give the Warriors more motivation.

Magic sending Raptors draft pick as compensation for hiring Jeff Weltman

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The Raptors promoted Jeff Weltman, still working under Masai Ujiri, to general manager last year.

That paid off for Toronto when the Magic hired Weltman as their new president.

Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports:

The Magic have their own and the Lakers’ second-round picks next year. Even the lower of those two selections could be somewhat valuable.

In other words, Weltman’s already-difficult job is getting even harder simply by Orlando hiring him.