Carmelo Anthony says trade for Andrea Bargnani was a steal for the Knicks

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When the Knicks went out and traded for Andrea Bargnani, it was a head-scratcher for plenty of New York fans.

Bargnani has a reputation of being a frail bust during his time in Toronto, a former number one overall draft pick who clung to the figurative neck of the Raptors franchise like an albatross for the past seven seasons.

But at least one prominent member of the Knicks has a level of excitement about the deal, and believes that the trade for Bargnani will be a positive one for the New York franchise.

From Marcus Henry of Newsday:

Anthony lamented losing key teammates from last season’s 54-28 squad, but said getting Bargnani was a “steal” and is convinced the Knicks will be better.

“I hate to lose [Steve] Novak and [Marcus] Camby, but when you get someone like [Bargnani] in return, it’s kind of a win-win situation.”

The 7-foot forward, a No. 1 overall pick of the Toronto Raptors in 2006, averaged 12.7 points and 3.7 rebounds last season. It was his lowest point total since he averaged 10.2 points per game in 2007-08.

“Hopefully, Bargnani will want to come in and prove something, come in with a chip on his shoulder and be ready to rock,” Anthony said.

Knicks head coach Mike Woodson similarly sang Bargnani’s praises at Summer League in Las Vegas.

“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.”

Bargnani’s shooting percentages are lower than they should be for a player that’s supposedly a specialty shooter, and his defense has been historically below average. Perhaps a change of scenery will benefit that player who was once believed to be talented enough to deserve to be taken number one overall in the 2006 NBA draft, but despite Anthony’s support, he’ll need to prove himself fairly quickly to shake his reputation under the New York media spotlight.

Remembering Notre Dame, Laker legend Tommy “the hawk” Hawkins

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Tommy Hawkins passed away recently at the age of 80.

The former NBA player was the first black athlete to earn All-America honors in basketball at Notre Dame (he still holds the school’s total rebounds record), was drafted in the first round, and went on to have a 10-year NBA career playing for the Minneapolis/Los Angeles Lakers as well as the Cincinnati Royals. Los Angeles fans may also remember him as the long time director of communications for the Los Angeles Dodgers after his playing days ended.

The NBA put together this well done video look back at Hawkins’ career.

Celtics’ Brad Stevens said early September tests will show if Thomas ready for camp

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Isaiah Thomas said he expects to be ready for the Celtics’ training camp next month. The guard’s All-NBA season came to an early end in the playoffs when he aggravated a labral tear in his right hip initially suffered back in March. At least the injury did not require surgery.

Players are also about the worst judges of when they will recover from an injury. They pretty much all think they are invincible and will be healthy faster than doctors predict.

Coaches tend to be more pragmatic. Take Boston’s Brad Stevens, who told Chris Mannix on The Vertical Podcast that tests in a couple of weeks will show if Thomas is ready for camp.

“He has another follow-up and another scan in the early part of September. Obviously, it’s been a lot of appropriate rest, a lot of rehab. There have been some good strides here certainly in the last month or few weeks, but we’re not going to know that until after that early September timeframe.”

The Celtics are understandably going to be cautious with Thomas, while Thomas wants to prove he is healthy and has no ill effects from the injury as he enters a contract year (one where he expects to get PAID). Also, the Celtics could use him in camp as they start to figure out how he and Gordon Hayward can share playmaking duties.

Still, from the outset, the timelines have suggested he should be ready for camp in late September. Coaches are just cautious on these things by nature.

Allen Iverson predicts LeBron James will win MVP

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LeBron James has four NBA MVP trophies in his case. (Does he keep that case in his home in Akron or the one in Los Angeles… that’s a question for another day.) Only Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (six) and Michael Jordan (five) have more.

Could LeBron James add a fifth to his case this season?

Allen Iverson said yes at last weekend’s Big3 playoffs in Seattle.

LeBron was fourth in preseason odds to win the MVP at 15/2, behind Russell Westbrook, Kevin Durant, and Kawhi Leonard.

To me, LeBron could be a good bet. If/when Kyrie Irving is traded, the chances of LeBron getting the MVP go up. If LeBron puts up impressive numbers (again) and leads a depleted Cavaliers team to a top two seed in the East, he is certainly going to be in consideration. And should be.

It’s a long season, and personally, I think you need to get midway through the season before seriously considering the year-end awards. But history says LeBron will be in the mix, and Allen Iverson could be proven prophetic.

Phoenix Suns with quality solar eclipse joke on Twitter

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With the cooler-than-I-expected solar eclipse on Monday came a lot of bad solar eclipse jokes on Twitter. Because that’s what Twitter does. Especially the NBA Twitterverse. We knew a lot of “where on the flat earth will Kyrie Irving watch the eclipse?” jokes were coming.

There were a couple of good ones, however.

Appropriately, the Phoenix Suns won the day.

One personal favorite here, an old meme that never goes out of style.