Indiana Pacers v New York Knicks - Game Five

Carmelo Anthony dodges talk of his plans next summer


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.)

Kings pick up option on G Ben McLemore

Ben McLemore, Rodney Hood
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SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) The Sacramento have picked up the 2016-17 option on guard Ben McLemore‘s contract.

General manager Vlade Divac announced the move Saturday.

McLemore was Sacramento’s first-round pick in 2013. He averaged 12.1 points, 2.9 rebounds and 1.7 assists last season.

Paul George reiterates “I don’t know if I’m cut out for a four spot”

Paul George

In the Pacers first exhibition game of the season Saturday against the Pelicans, Paul George started at the power forward spot and looked healthy — that should be the big takeaway. He also showed off his offensive game in the first quarter, eventually finishing the night with 18 points on 7-of-15 shooting. He forced some shots in the second half and had some defensive challenges, but it was a solid outing for a first preseason game.

George did not see it that way, and that will end up being the big takeaway.

He complained about playing power forward during training camp and given the chance after this one game he did it again, as reported by Candace Buckner of the Indy Star.

“I don’t know if I’m cut out for a four spot,” George said after the Pacers’ 110-105 loss to the New Orleans Pelicans, a game in which he started matched up against 6-foot-11 All-Star Anthony Davis.

“I don’t know if this is my position. We’ll sit and watch tape and I’m sure I’ll talk with coach (Frank Vogel). I’ll talk with Larry (Bird) as well to get both their inputs on how the first game went but…I’m still not comfortable with it regardless of the situation. It’s still something I have to adjust to or maybe not. Or maybe it’s something we can go away from.”

George sees himself as a wing, where he has played his entire career. He doesn’t like defending traditional fours, as a scorer he doesn’t like expending all that energy defending pick-and-rolls and banging with bigger bodies. He’s been clear about that.

He still needs to be open to the idea. How much time George gets at the four on any given night should depend on the matchup — and Anthony Davis is about as rough a matchup as he is going to see. Davis scored 18 points in 15 minutes, and the Pelicans controlled the paint against the small-ball Pacers. George had a hard time defending Davis — welcome to a rather large club, PG. That said, George scored 12 points in the first quarter mostly with Davis on him, he pulled the big out in space and got what he wanted.

Back to the matchups point, George will struggle defensively against the best fours in the game (most of whom are in the West). But what about the nights in the East when George would be matched up on Thaddeus Young from Brooklyn, Jared Sullinger (or David Lee, or whoever) from Boston, or Aaron Gordon with the Magic, or Carmelo Anthony with the Knicks when they play small? There are a lot of lineups the Pacers will see where George at the four makes sense.

The Pacers are transitioning from a plodding and defensive-minded squad to a more up-tempo style, and that’s going to take time— a lot more than one preseason game. However, if George is throwing cold water on the plan after this one effort, it might take a lot longer and be a lot bumpier to make that transition than we pictured.