Indiana Pacers v New York Knicks - Game Five

Carmelo Anthony dodges talk of his plans next summer

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Carmelo Anthony can opt out of his contract next summer and he’s expected to do just that to lock down the security of a new longer deal — and he doesn’t really want to talk about it.

He’ll talk about how he likes the offseason moves his Knicks made — picking up Andrea Bargnani and Metta World Peace — and how he’s excited for next season. He was willing to do that with ESPN New York.

“We got [Metta World Peace], and I think [Andrea] Bargnani was really a steal for us. He’ll help us spread the floor. We got J.R. [Smith] back and we kept the core guys together….

“It’s a big year,” said Anthony, who recently returned from a Jordan Brand trip to China with Chris Paul and Blake Griffin. “A huge upcoming season for me, as a team and as an organization.”

It’s going to be an interesting year for the Knicks. I’m not big on Bargnani (and don’t think any Knicks fans that are will be by Christmas), but the addition of World Peace with a full season of Iman Shumpert should improve what was a pedestrian defense last season. Problem is, I don’t think that gets that past the Heat in the playoffs; the Pacers were better and get back an All-Star in Danny Granger plus they addressed their depth issues; the Bulls get Derrick Rose back; and the Nets got older but a whole lot tougher and better. The top of the East is going to be much tougher and we’ll see if the Knicks can hang.

But the bigger question with ‘Melo is next summer, when he could opt out of his contract and be a free agent. He’s not talking about that.

Will this season determine whether he remains in New York long-term?

“I can’t do that,” Anthony said. “It’s too tough right now.”

Don’t worry, it’s not like the New York media are the kinds of people who will bring this topic up daily. I’m sure they will pull back so he can make his decision in peace and in his own time frame.

(If you didn’t feel the sarcasm in those last sentences, read them again.)

Aaron Gordon both legs over the mascot, ball-under-the-legs dunk (VIDEO)

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TORONTO — Zach LaVine won the NBA All-Star Saturday Dunk Contest, but in an epic night for my money this was the single best dunk.

Orlando’s Aaron Gordon broke ground with this one — guys have jumped over mascots and other players before (and a Kia hood), but by splitting their legs apart. Gordon just put both legs over Stuff (that’s the mascot’s name, Stuff the Magic Dragon, I don’t make this up) — and took the ball off the mascot’s head, went under his legs, and threw it down.

Insane.

Gordon deserved a trophy for his performance in this dunk contest.

Zach LaVine edges Aaron Gordon in epic, insane Dunk Contest

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TORONTO — That. Was. Amazing.

In a dunk contest that will go down with the all-time greats — Jordan vs. Dominique, Dr. J from the free throw line — Minnesota’s Zach LaVine defended his dunk contest title. Barely. Because Orlando’s Aaron Gordon was doing dunks nobody had ever seen before.

And LaVine was bringing it just as hard.

The two men advanced to the finals — dismissing Will Barton and Andre Drummond, each of whom had good dunks — and that was when it got wild.

There were four second-round dunks, and four perfect scores of 50. (That was in spite of Shaq, who wanted to give nines for second attempts.)

“I was prepared for four (second round dunks),” LaVine said. “To tell the truth, he came with something that no one else has done. He did two dunks that were just crazy with the mascots, jumping over them. We just kept pushing each other until the last dunk. I’ve got to give it up to my boy Will “The Thrill” Barton. It’s because of him I think I won. Because he said try to go from the free-throw line. I’d never done that before, and I just tried it. So I guess it was a great dunk. I think it was the best one ever.”

The Air Canada Centre crowd was exploding with every dunk. The two men went to a dunk-off — and got two more 50s.

“If I knew it was going to be like that, I would have prepared better and we would have been here dunking all night, going back 50 after 50 after 50 after 50,” Gordon said. “We would have been here all night. I didn’t know it was going to be like that. I was just hoping Zach was going to miss, and it wasn’t going to happen. You could see as my facial expressions when Zach dunks it, it’s like okay, that’s a 50. Like I know we’re going to have to dunk again.”

So they went to a second-round of overtime, where LaVine put up another 50 and won the contest.

Gordon was close to perfect.

Zach LaVine can flat-out fly.

Magic’s Aaron Gordon with the over-the-mascot mad dunk

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TORONTO — Aaron Gordon was giving Zach LaVine all he could handle in the Dunk Contest.

He blew the lid off the Air Canada Centre with this dunk in the first round — and it wasn’t even his best dunk of the night. Never seen this before.

This dunk contest was awesome, so much more video to come.

Zach LaVine opens Slam Dunk Contest title defense with spectacular behind-the-back slam (VIDEO)

during the BBVA Compass Rising Stars Challenge 2016 at Air Canada Centre on February 12, 2016 in Toronto, Canada. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.
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TORONTO — Zach LaVine clearly heard all the talk that Aaron Gordon or Will Barton had a chance to upset him in the Slam Dunk Contest. He came out ready to prove his superiority right off the bat. This behind-the-back slam was his first attempt of the night:

Even better was the reaction, both from Andre Drummond and from LaVine’s Minnesota teammates: