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.

Giannis Antetokounmpo out for Bucks-Suns Eric Bledsoe revenge game

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Giannis Antetokounmpoone of the NBA’s best players – won’t help new Bucks teammate Eric Bledsoe in a revenge game against the Suns tonight.

Not only is Milwaukee missing Mirza Teletovic and John Henson (and Matthew Dellavedova and Jabari Parker), Antetokounmpo is out.

Matt Velazquez of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:

Antetokounmpo will miss Wednesday’s game against the Phoenix Suns due to right knee soreness.

Antetokounmpo says his knee soreness is the same injury he dealt with in the off-season, which caused him to withdraw from the Greek national team.

“It feels good,” Antetokounmpo said after sitting out shootaround. “I’m just trying to be careful with it and not make any damage. That’s it, because it’s a long season and I’m trying to be careful.”

The Bucks have been outscored by 18.6 points per 100 possessions without Antetokounmpo this season (and are +2.3 without him). Phoenix isn’t good, but neither is Milwaukee without Antetokounmpo.

I don’t think Bledsoe will mind a chance to get more aggressive tonight, though.

Report: Mexico City could host NBA’s 31st minor-league team

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NBA commissioner Adam Silver said his league would look into placing a franchise in Mexico City.

Meanwhile, the NBA’s minor-league has affiliates for 26 of 30 NBA teams and counting. The league also has youth academies in China, India, Australia and Senegal – and also counting.

Jonathan Givony of  ESPN:

The NBA will announce a new basketball development and training academy in Mexico City during the Global Games December 7th and 9th, in conjunction with CONADE (Mexico’s National Commission for Physical Culture and Sport) and the Mexican Basketball Federation, sources told ESPN.

Mexico City could emerge as the 31st G League franchise, where prospects from the seven academies graduate up to, according to sources.

A minor-league team in Mexico City could be a nice testing ground for an NBA franchise. An unaffiliated minor-league team is also an interesting wrinkle, especially how it’d be stocked.

Ultimately, experimentation is a purpose of the NBA’s minor league. This would be running multiple test cases at once.

Lonzo Ball on his shot: “I feel like they’re going to fall. Just have to keep shooting.”

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Lonzo Ball‘s shooting woes this season have been well chronicled. Maybe even beaten to death — but when your father is a hype man, and Magic Johnson says you’re the “face of the franchise” it invites a whole new level of scrutiny. Doesn’t matter if it’s fair, it’s reality.

Rather than a cold recitation of the numbers, a look at Ball’s shot chart for the season says a 1,000 words worth.

Ball has admitted frustration but has said throughout he expects things to turn. He reiterated that in an interview on the Mason and Ireland Show on ESPN LA Radio. He likes the looks he’s getting, thinks they will start to go down. (Hat tip Lakers’ Nation.)

“I’m just missing shots. I definitely like the looks I’m getting. Most of them are wide open, people are going under screens. I feel like they’re going to fall. Just have to keep shooting and shooting with confidence.”

Ball is right. He is shooting 28.2 percent on shots where the defender is 4-6 feet away (22.9 percent from three on those), and 21.3 percent when the defender is 6 or more feet away (19.1 percent from three).

Those shots may start to fall — Luke Walton has preached the same thing to Ball, just keep shooting and it will come around. Right now Ball is in his own head about this, maybe guiding the shots rather than just firing away, but the Lakers aren’t going to rebuild his shot mid-season. He should just keep shooting.

Maybe of more concern is that 42.5 percent in the restricted area — if he isn’t a decent scoring threat on drives, it will hamper his entire passing game. He’s a rookie, he needs time to adjust to the speed, length, and physicality of the NBA, it’s far too early to say what he is and isn’t yet. But those finishing numbers are ones to watch.

Kevin Durant says “I plan on playing” against Thunder Wednesday

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After Kevin Durant missed the Warriors’ last game with a sprained ankle, there was some question about whether he would play on his latest return to Oklahoma City on Wednesday.

Doubt no more, he will play. Like we all expected.

Durant has a ring now and says he wants to move on from the drama surrounding his departure from Oklahoma City, but you can be sure plenty of Thunder fans don’t feel that way. KD will again have boos rained down on him all game.

This is obviously a very different Thunder team than the one Durant left, with the additions of Paul George and Carmelo Anthony. While the Thunder have stumbled and blown leads (in six of their nine losses OKC had double-digit leads) this is a team with a lot of potential, as Durant discussed.