Carmelo Anthony says he will recruit players to New York… in 2015

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Carmelo Anthony once again sounded like a guy not going anywhere this summer when he can opt out — he talked with Newsday Tuesday about wanting to recruit players to New York, not being recruited.

It was return fire at Charles Barkley and Kenny Smith at TNT, who questioned ‘Melo’s ability to lead a team to a title on the court or recruit players to New York to do it with him.

“They don’t know what I’m doing,” Anthony said after practice. “I haven’t had a complaint yet in my 11 years in this NBA about playing with me. I think people would love to come to play in New York. And when that time comes, we’ll be working on that.

“I have a big black book. I have a big Rolodex. People that talk about what’s going on with me in the offseason, this and that, I should be getting people to come here, I am. I’m trying.”

So the good news is he sounds like he’s staying put… not that we really thought he would leave. And I don’t question that he can be a fairly effective recruiter because teammates do like him, plus he  gets to pitch the bright lights (and marketing opportunities) of New York.

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He’s also got a year to work on his sales pitch. He can hone it on some smaller fish.

Unless Amar’e Stoudemire and Andrea Bargnani opt out of their deals this summer — and they are not, those two know they are never getting a payday anywhere near this big again, $23.4 million next season for Stoudemire and $11.5 million for Bargnani — the Knicks are not going to have the cap room to go after name players. Remember Anthony is scheduled to make $23.3 million and even if he opts out and re-signs in New York that number will be in that ballpark.

The Knicks have $92 million on the books for next season if everyone opts in (via Mark Deeks and Sham Sports). That is way over the salary cap and luxury tax line (likely around $76 million) — the Knicks will not have the room to recruit free agents next summer, other than keeping their own.

In 2015? Maybe, they have $13 million on the books, plus whatever they re-sign Anthony for. But they may also try to stay under the luxury tax line at that point, looking to avoid the repeater tax that has kicked in. Still, they can go after a name then, that’s when the Rolodex comes in handy….

Well, if anyone actually used a Rolodex anymore. We just call them contacts in our iPhones now.

Report: Clippers take Chris Paul-to-Spurs rumor ‘very seriously’

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Want to laugh off that Chris Paul-to-Spurs rumor?

The Clippers aren’t joining you.

Marc Stein of ESPN:

The Clippers should be concerned. Losing Paul would unravel their entire foundation, dropping them from the fringe of championship contention to out of the title picture completely. It could even help usher out Blake Griffin, who will also be an unrestricted free agent this summer. (To be fair, Paul leaving could also help convince Griffin to stay.)

About a month ago, the Clippers reportedly expected Paul to stay. They even reportedly struck a verbal agreement with him to re-sign before that. But they can’t officially sign him until July, and that leaves the door open for him to leave.

The Clippers should be heartened by their advantages – a prime market and a projected max offer of $205 million over five years.

The most another team projects to be able to offer is $152 million over four years, and San Antonio will have a hard time doing that. Even if they trim their roster to Kawhi Leonard, LaMarcus Aldridge, Pau Gasol, Danny Green and Tony Parker, the Spurs would still have to shed two of those players to clear max cap space.

So, never say never, but the Clippers’ concern might be rooted more in the dire consequences of Paul leaving rather than the likelihood of it.

Report: Raptors, Magic can’t trade with each other for a year

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The Magic will send the Raptors a 2018 second-round pick for hiring Jeff Weltman, who was Toronto’s general manager.

But that’s not the only consequence of hire.

Yahoo Sports:

The move invoked the NBA provision that Toronto and Orlando are not permitted to trade players with each other until the earlier of May 24, 2018, or the conclusion of the 2017-18 season for either organization, league sources told The Vertical’s Shams Charania.

The NBA made a similar ruling when the Clippers sent the Celtics a first-rounder to hire Doc Rivers, and I don’t like it now, either. It’s needlessly restrictive, preventing talent from flowing to the optimal locations.

At least Orlando isn’t a logical destination for the Raptor most likely to be dealt: Jonas Valanciunas. The Magic already have enough centers with Nikola Vucevic and Bismack Biyombo – a lesson that influenced their last trade with Toronto, dealing Serge Ibaka.

2017 NBA playoffs have been historically uncompetitive

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The NBA Finals so many wanted to see – Cavaliers-Warriors III – is here.

At least it will be.

Today is the first of six off days before the 2017, which begin June 1 in Oakland.

The lengthy delay is the product of an underwhelming postseason featuring few competitive series and numerous blowouts.

Golden State swept its way through the West, and Cleveland dropped only one game (to the Celtics in the conference finals) while winning the East. There have been only two Game 7s, but considering the magnitude, neither felt that compelling. Blake Griffin‘s injury undercut the Clippers against the Jazz, and Celtics over Wizards felt inevitable with home teams winning each game of the series. Between, there have been several lackluster games and series.

There have been just 74 playoff games this year – the fewest before the Finals since since the NBA instituted a best-of-seven first round in 2003:

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That’s 74 of a possible 98 games – 76%, the lowest since 1999 and seventh-lowest ever.

Even if the Finals go seven games, it will be the fewest games in a postseason since 2007. If the Finals go five or fewer games, it’ll be the shortest postseason in this playoff format.

And it hasn’t just been quantity. The quality of games has been lacking, too.

Though there were more blowouts last year by nearly any measure, the 2017 postseason’s average margin in pre-Finals games (13.5) is fifth-highest all-time and second-highest since 1959 (behind 2016, 14.2).

Combine the two factors, and these are the drabbest playoffs in nearly 50 years. Here’s each postseason plotted by average margin in pre-Finals games and percentage of possible games pre-Finals:

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This probably just confirms what you’ve seen: The 2017 playoffs have been in a rut.

We’re all counting on the Cavaliers and Warriors to salvage this postseason, but considering how deep the hole is, anything less than an epic Finals probably won’t cut it.

Kyrie Irving crosses over Avery Bradley, hits 3-pointer (video)

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Avery Bradley got around one screen then, thanks to Kyrie Irving‘s excellent ball-handling, lunged at another that wasn’t coming as Irving hit a 3-pointer.